On the surface Drake Doremus’ Like Crazy seems like just one in a line of many romantic dramas attempting to deal with blossoming romance. The marketing didn’t help, which makes it seem twee instead of the sweet and cute yet realistic film it actually is.
Anna (Felicity Jones) is an English journalism student on exchange in Los Angeles and there she meets Jacob (Anton Yelchin), a furniture design student, and they quickly fall for one another. But unfortunately Anna’s visa runs out and she has to go back to England, however she decides to overstay for a couple of months and as a result of that causes issues with her being able to come back into the U.S. The film then chronicles their struggling relationship which they try to maintain despite being apart from each other for long stretches of time.
Without feeling forced or contrived, the film does what all good romance films do; it makes us believe in the central couple’s romance, and not only that but it makes us root for them when faced with unfair odds. In a very simple yet effective way it endears us to its characters by presenting a relatable and realistic overarching situation.
This is helped by the performances of the two leads, Felicity Jones and Anton Yelchin. At once completely different yet somehow a believable match for one another, Jones and Yelchin are both fantastic in their own ways. Jones, a definite rising star, portrays the vulnerability needed without making her character clingy or annoying. Similarly, Yelchin is both authoritative and sensitive at the same time. I really felt like I was watching two real human beings fall for one another and felt genuinely disheartened for them when they are repeatedly forced apart.
Beyond its surface sweetness – and there is plenty of that there to enjoy if that’s what you’re going into the film looking for – there is plenty of depth to be found. I personally found their stopping and starting to be a representation of the way relationships are. Things aren’t always consistent and perfect the way we’d all like them to be. And most certainly, as the film addresses at several points, not always like how it was in the beginning.
There are times when the stuttering, back-and-forth nature of the narrative feels a little overdone but that is overshadowed by the terrific central performances, well-written dialogue and a young relationship that you can believe and invest in. This is proof that all modern romance films don’t need to be – and quite rightfully shouldn’t be – vacuous romantic comedies.