So far, Like Crazy (2011) has won the following awards:
- Grand Jury Prize (Dramatic) Best Picture award, Sundance Film Festival;
- Audience Choice Best Picture award, San Diego Film Festival, and;
- Best Picture award, Twin Cities Film Festival.
Not to mention the actors Felicity Jones and Anton Yelchin (who played protagonists Anna and Jacob, respectively) accumulating the following awards:
- Breakthrough Performance (Jones), National Board of Review;
- Breakthrough Actor (Jones), Gotham Independent Film;
- Special Jury Prize Best Actress (Jones), Sundance Film Festival;
- Spotlight Award Best Actor (Yelchin), Hollywood Film Festival, and;
- Artist to Watch Best Actor (Yelchin), Aspen Film Festival.
Yet, with all these awards, Like Crazy received (surprisingly) very little commercial success. Which leads me to ask: who doesn’t love a heartbreaking love story? Although, this story comes with a twist. It is like no other. The story follows two “college” (university, to others) students Anna, the English girl who decided to study in America, and Jacob, who happened to be the Lecturer’s Assistant in one of her classes, from their very first (uncomfortable) date through to very wobbly few years of long-distance (Los Angeles to London) relationship ending with…well, I won’t spoil it.
The film opens with Anna reading out her presentation on social media, pretty apt considering the times we live in. You see her make an (awkward) exchange with Jacob before the scene cuts to her leaving a letter under his car windscreen wiper. If you’re a big softie like me, you might pause the film to read the letter (which was a full coherent letter, kudos to the director Drake Doremus) and Anna signs off with “P.S. Please don’t think I’m a nutcase.” I can only fathom that the “P.S” alone led Jacob to call her. I hope so at least.
Then starts the whirlwind romance of dating, falling in love, meeting the parents, overstaying Anna’s study visa, getting banned from the States, moving back to London, getting separate jobs, separate lives, loving each other from a distance, getting married (to one another), having separate partners… the list goes on. Apparently, this script is loosely based on a real-life relationship that director Doremus had himself.
The things that make this film feel so real are also huge accomplishments to the people involved in the making. The film doesn’t feel very “Hollywood” due to the fact it was shot on a Canon 7D DSLR. The handheld nature of some shots make it feel very intimate. You almost feel like you’re there watching them. The clothing/references are timeless. There’s nothing to suggest it was set this year, or last, or even in the future. I rather like that about this film; the characters progress and mature with their wardrobes but there’s no definitive “era”. It will (probably) always feel like “now”.
The film was mainly improvised. This is vital to the genuine feel of their relationship. It’s also an outstanding feat that two young actors can pull off considering they only met a week before they started shooting. With only 50 pages of a storyline to go off and no scripted dialogue, the duo had to just make it up as they went along… and it works. It really really works. It’s natural. There’s emotion. There’s the real reaction you would expect during a touching moment and during a fight. Some of the best moments are outtakes shot whilst the actors just hung out between takes, joking around and talking in the background as Doremus (cleverly) decided to leave the camera rolling.
The ups and downs will touch anyone who has ever been in love. Yes, it’s a love story, however it’s not a romantic comedy. Things are not “happily ever after”. Things didn’t work out just because they got married. Their relationship kept progressing throughout time, throughout growing up/apart. The ending is heartbreaking, I cry every time. It’s a masterpiece. Watch it.