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 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Thursday, April 24, 2014 - Edition No 894 

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LIKE CRAZY

SYNOPSIS:
While studying in Los Angeles, British college student Anna (Felicity Jones) falls for fellow student Jacob (Anton Yelchin), an American citizen, and recklessly overstays her student visa. When she tries sometime later to return to Los Angeles to be with Jacob,
she's banned from the U.S. and their relationship takes several tumbles as they fight geographical and emotional separation.

Review by Louise Keller:
This boy meets girl story aspires to be a poignant exploration of love. It's about the feeling that two people have for each other that is different from anything they can share with anyone else. Director Drake Doremus's screenplay, co-written with Ben York Jones, takes the relationship between the two central characters and isolates it in a bubble. Everything that happens in the film is about emotions and the internal relationship between Jacob (Anton Yelchin) and Anna (Felicity Jones), who meet, fall in love and have to deal with the reality that they live in different countries. Time stands still.

In many ways it's a beautiful portrayal of innocence couched in idealism and romantic love. But there are frustrations. Although young girls may hang onto every sigh, whimper and hiccup, many will be deterred by the breathlessness. By breathlessness, I mean that the film is punctuated by scenes filled with silences as the characters simply live in the moment. There are shifts in time and countries too, of which we are asked to keep abreast. And while Doremus achieves an extraordinary intimacy between Jacob and Anna, it is surprisingly passion-free. We watch their relationship evolve in a montage of static scenes. They kiss, they shower together, share a bubble bath and sleep together, yet these scenes are passive and illustrative. The only passion seen on screen is when Jacob and Anna are with other partners.

It all starts at college in LA. She dabbles in words and wants to be a journalist. He draws and wants to design furniture. They bond over cups of tea that are bigger than her face and then she invites him into her room. They drink scotch. He sits in the chair where she writes. He asks her to read something she has written. They have fun together, walk barefoot on Santa Monica beach and dance on the boardwalk. He designs a chair for her, from where she can write. Like Crazy are the words inscribed on the base. That's how they feel about each other.

Much of the success of the film lies in the performances and onscreen chemistry between Jones and Yelchin. There's a compelling stillness between them and an intangible connection as if they are somehow linked by an uncontrollable force. Then there are separations and tears as a visa is overstayed and the commuting between Los Angeles and London begins.

For me, the most offputting thing about the film is Dustin O'Halloran's incessantly intrusive music score which drones constantly, especially through scenes in which there is no dialogue. It makes what could have been a sweet and involving tour de force into a rather heavy-handed drama.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Seemingly aimed at young women 18 - 24, Like Crazy is a sentimental love story which is structured like a romantic comedy but there are no laughs. It's more like a series of sentimental greeting cards suitable at differing stages of a relationship, from sparkling first love to broken relationship to marriage and out of it ... The screenplay is rather formless and for the most part, tedious.

The filmmakers have not taken to heart the famous Alfred Hitchcock definition of cinema: life with the boring bits cut out. They left them all in. It's a compendium of 100 hugs and cuddles - not always with the same partners - and postcard-like collages of lovers in various poses. There is a well observed recital of many stages of the relationship through which our protagonists Jacob (Anton Yelchin) and Anna (Felicity Jones) have to crawl and even at the end we're not convinced they've finished crawling.

Both leads are effective, although Yelchin's rather bland performance sucks the energy out of the film, while Jones has a sweet and malleable face. Their adventures in love matter mostly to them, not to us, and their flirtations with other partners are thrown in perfunctorily like splashes of parsley on a platter

The film is wrapped in a syrupy score with lots of piano twirling around as time passes via montages and other tired devices. The ending is strangely muted and strangely meaningless. But I suspect that some in the target audience will relate to the issues that Anna faces - and will make a judgement about Jacob. If only it mattered to me ...



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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 1
Mixed: 1

LIKE CRAZY (PG)
(US, 2011)

CAST: Anton Yelchin, Felicity Jones, Jennifer Lawrence, Charlie Bewley, Alex Kingston, Oliver Muirhead, Finola Hughes, Chris Messina, Ben York Jones

PRODUCER: Jonathan Schwartz, Andrea Sperling

DIRECTOR: Drake Doremus

SCRIPT: Drake Doremus, Ben York Jones

CINEMATOGRAPHER: John Guleserian

EDITOR: Johnathan Alberts

MUSIC: Dustin O'Halloran

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Katie Byron

RUNNING TIME: 90 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Paramount

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: March 1, 2011







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