Another failed attempt at a new generation’s Before Sunrise
The one downside that Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke and Richard Linklater probably never imagined when they crafted Before Sunrise and Before Sunset is that they’d inspire a legion of imitators trying to find a whimsical story about two people slated to be with one another despite all the circumstances preventing it. There have been a handful alone this year, most notably being The Art of Getting By and One Day, and neither of them approaching the brilliance of either of Linklater’s films. Add another flawed attempt at duplicating this effort with Like Crazy.
Anna (Felicity Jones) is a British co-ed studying in America with a crush on her fellow student Jacob (Anton Yelchin) in Los Angeles. After she does something over the top to get his notice, and he responds in kind, the two begin a love affair of grand proportions. When she overstays her student visa because she doesn’t want to leave his side, and winds up stuck in England away from Jacob because she won’t be allowed back in the U.S. As they begin their separate lives in different areas of the world, they spend the bulk of the film trying to make it work in various forms while building their lives separately.
And it would be easy to get swept up into this first real love of both their lives if the film had two things: chemistry and a lack of montages.
Yelchin and Jones just don’t have the sort of chemistry required for us to really want to see them stay together. They’re both admirable in their parts but they don’t work well together. They don’t have enough chemistry for us to want to think they would be friends on a social network much less would be one another’s first real, true loves. Yelchin shows more chemistry with Jennifer Lawrence, who has a tiny amount of screen time in comparison to Jones, than he does with his co-star.
The film’s other problem is that Drake Doremus wants to use montages for significant portions of the story than need be. The film’s big plot pieces early on, with them falling in love and her overstaying of her visa, wind up being given short shrift. We see them fall in love in a moment and deal with the consequences for the length of the film; there’s no moment where we fall in love with them in the same way they fall in love with one another. In many types of genres you can do a montage sequence to cut down screen time but in a romantic drama running short on time, as Like Crazy doesn’t hit the 90 minute mark, it compromises any sort of character building moments.
There’s no time to develop a rooting interest in their transcontinental romance, and all the challenges the film provides because it’s too interested in the story and not the characters. Which is a shame because there’s something to be had in this story about young love trying to make it despite everything working against it.
Director: Drake Doremus Notable Cast: Anton Yelchin, Jennifer Lawrence, Felicity Jones Writer(s): Drake Doremus and Ben York Jones