UPDATE: “Like Crazy” takes home the Grand Jury Prize from the 2011 Sundance Film Festival.
The thrills of vicarious romance used to be one of the crowning glories of cinema. There isn’t enough of it anymore, since studios have taken to producing mass marketable potboilers (the current rom-com ‘No Strings Attached’ comes to mind) in lieu of deeper, more penetrating fare (would the ‘The Way We Were’ ever get made today?).
But I’m a romantic so I’m biased.
My expectations for cinematic love stories are unfairly high, because I believe in the triumph of romantic love, in all its many forms. Which is why Drake Doremus’s “Like Crazy” sounds so enticing. The film premiered at Sundance this past weekend and was promptly sold to Paramount and Indian Paintbrush for $4 million, according to TheWrap.com (It had been the highest sale of the festival until The Weinstein Company and backer Ron Burkle paid $6 million for the Paul Rudd comedy “My Idiot Brother”). The film’s star, Anton Yelchin, of Russian-Jewish descent and last seen in J.J. Abrams’ “Star Trek” and the Armageddon film “Terminator Salvation” will test the depths of his talent for the first time, trading the explosions of battle for the expressions of the heart.
The film stars a soulful Anton Yelchin as Jacob and the diaphanous Felicity Jones as Anna, two lovers who meet and fall in love as students in Los Angeles and separated by U.S. Immigration policy.
When Anna overstays her visa, she is barred from reentering the country and retreats to London. But the potency of a fierce connection keep drawing them back together, even as the demands of daily life (and immigration bureaucracy) keep them an ocean apart.
The romance is authentic and uplifting, a reminder that certain kinds of love are entirely unique. Even as the lovers go on with their lives, finding jobs and replacement relationships (including one with Jennifer Lawrence), it’s clear that they are pale stand-ins for what Anna and Jacob have when they are together.
A friend of mine recently said, “Intimacy comes in many forms,” an idea I resisted, before realizing its truth. The notion that intimacy has kaleidoscopic shades is acutely seen in movies—it may even be the reason we go. The romance that develops between Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson in “Lost in Translation”, for example, is one of my favorites; a testament to the fact that unrealized love is love nonetheless. If we’ve become accustomed to the happy ending in movies, there comes another to remind us that in life, not every love gets to blossom.
In the dark of a movie theater (or in the pages of a book), there’s nothing to do but feel. And there’s holiness in that catharsis, the chance to express that which is repressed within us, to dream what is possible for ourselves, to experience what in life we cannot know. It’s a time to go ‘crazy’ or get ‘lost’ inside the magic of our own imaginations. Because outside in the world, oceans can divide us, and love that trumps sense and convention – even if remote, even if unseen – needs a place to live.
Stars Anton Yelchin, 21, and Felicity Jones, 27 tell MTV about getting emotionally ‘naked’ for their roles: