In an era when the U.S.-born children of Mexican immigrants are afraid to go to school in some states because of threatened roundups, and American gays and lesbians aren’t allowed the option of marriage to provide citizenship for their foreign-born partners, it’s hard to muster up much sympathy for a privileged white Brit who’s not allowed back into this country after she willfully violates the terms of her student visa.
But that’s what “Like Crazy” expects to feel about poor pampered Anna (Felicity Jones), who couldn’t bear to return to the U.K. for three short months if it means being away from her l-u-v, furniture designer Jacob (Anton Yelchin). Cry me a river of Cheez Whiz.
Even putting immigration issues aside, Anna and Jacob are generally so short-sighted and shallow that their whirlwind romance is eminently resistible.
Director and co-writer Drake Doremus clearly wants us to be enchanted by the moony eyes they make at each other, but we never get much of a clue as to who these kids are and why they’re so enamored. Every time the two of them threaten to have a conversation that’s about something other than their passion or their love of high-end Scotch, Doremus takes a page from “Team America: World Police” and goes all “You Need a Montage!” with his romantic leads.
Anna and Jacob meet as college classmates, then spend the summer together when she’s supposed to go home. He opens a small factory, while she climbs the ladder at a British fashion magazine, but then she can’t come back to the U.S., boo hoo. So Jacob starts dating comely co-worker Samantha (Jennifer Lawrence, Yelchin’s co-star in “The Beaver”), but just as things start getting serious, Anna cajoles him into visiting her a few times.
The closer that the couple comes to working out her immigration difficulties and finally cohabiting, the less each seems committed to actually keeping the relationship alive — Jacob can’t quite get over Samantha, while Anna gets something going with yuppie Simon (Charlie Bewley).
So you wind up with a movie that’s supposed to make us all heartsick about how these pretty white people with problems just can’t make it work. But anyone over the age of 25 or so will recognize that these two ninnies have no idea what relationships are about, what measures one has to take to keep them alive, or how to recognize when, to paraphrase “Annie Hall,” you’ve got a dead shark on your hands.
Anton Yelchin is an amazingly empathetic young actor — and based on the little I’ve seen of Felicity Jones, I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt — but these characters have been written to be so annoyingly unaware of consequences or even the future that they’re just exasperating.
Much has been made over the improvised dialogue in “Like Crazy,” but Doremus and his collaborator Ben York Jones fail to provide an interesting enough framework for their cast while, as mentioned, never letting them discuss anything of substance that might make them feel like something more fleshed-out than a couple in an engagement-ring commercial.
John Guleserian’s bright-and-fuzzy cinematography suits the material, even if it’s not particularly groundbreaking, and Dustin O’Halloran’s score goes leagues further than any other facet of the production when it comes to invoking a sense of melancholy.
“Like Crazy” might have worked better if Doremus had doubled down and made the whole movie a series of wordless montages, since that would have covered up many of the film’s flaws while accentuating its strongest assets.
Teens, and the adolescent of mind, will no doubt sigh wistfully over the goings-on here, but it should come with a “Jackass”-style disclaimer: “Don’t try this at home. Or abroad.”