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Like Crazy

January 15, 2014

Like Crazy (2011)
Director: Drake Doremus
Actors: Felicity Jones, Anton Yelchin, Jennifer Lawrence

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Synopsis: Jacob (Anton Yelchin) and Anna (Felicity Jones) meet cute at college in Los Angeles and have a magical first few months together. Anna is a Brit on a student visa, so when she outstays the validity of that visa for one last summer with Jacob, she is outlawed from re-entering the US for a significant period of time – jeopardising their fragile relationship. Over the years, Jacob and Anna try to keep the union going, even resorting to marriage, but Anna is forced to wait for a US marital visa and gradually they slip into different relationships on opposite sides of the pond….

Review: Planning to shoot my own feature film on a Canon EOS 7D camera, I was curious to see how the most famous picture yet made by that camera – Drake Doremus’ Like Crazy – turned out. Incidentally, though the camera itself cost only $1.5k to acquire, this film’s budget was almost $250k, so clearly at least some work and expense has gone into development, post-production, and scouting the best in transatlantic locations and casting, to negate any potential downside to the low-budget camera.

Ironically then, it’s the film’s look and technique (the cheapest, hardest bit) that is actually its biggest calling-card. Yes, once or twice, you could accuse director Drake Doremus of perhaps overdemonstrating his guerrilla technical proficiency with a jump-cut or timelapse sequence too many, but all in all, it’s a beautifully rendered film – with imaginative editing, spectacular cinematography and two very charming, naturalistic performances from Felicity Jones and Anton Yelchin at the centre of it.

Narrative is the only arena where Doremus’ masterly command of his medium and rhetoric threatens to slip. While the idea of young lovers split by the bureaucracy of their separate transatlantic nationalities is perfectly dramatic (and Doremus really creates a great sense of place for his LA and London locales), when Doremus has to develop that set-up beyond its first act, the film’s fresh, authentic air begins to fade. Despite the obvious heady love between Anna and Jacob, it’s hard to accept that Anna would wilfully outstay her visa expiry date and jeopardise her future chances with Jacob, and when the two characters shack up with other lovers after they have a post-marriage tiff, any goodwill stored up dissipates in the sheer fact that their utter fickleness precludes any audience sympathy for the sanctity of their special love. (January 2014)

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