04 November 2011

Love Crazy

When asked about the existence of a higher power, renowned astrophysicist and cynosure talk show guest, Neil deGrasse Tyson, penetratingly responded:  "Every account of a higher power that I've seen described, of all religions that I've seen include many statements with regard to the benevolence of that power. When I look at the universe and all the ways the universe wants to kill us, I find it hard to reconcile that with statements of beneficence."  Scaling down to earthly matters, Drake Doremus' film, Like Crazy, suggests the universe cruelly conspires against lasting romance, too.

Anton Yelchin and Felicity Jones play Jacob and Anna, two attractive but unassuming college students who fall in love their senior year.  Their courtship is sweetly innocent yet admiringly mature; against the backdrop of Los Angeles sprawl, they create a small intimate and idyllic world for themselves.  Complications arise when Anna, a British national, can't bear to leave Jacob and overstays her student visa.  A seemingly harmless indiscretion that nevertheless sets off a chain of events that eventually leads to their ending up eight time zones apart. 

The story is fairly simple and familiar.  As anyone who has attempted a long-distance relationship knows all too well, a labour of love rapidly devolves into awkward phone calls, histrionic text messages, crossed schedules, and, inevitably, new paramours.  Doremus, who co-wrote and directed the film, based the story on his own experiences battling immigration officials to reunite with his Austrian girlfriend, never allows the script to interfere with the business of storytelling.  He relies on his actors to express the characters' emotions via non-verbal cues.  To round off the experience of the personal, Doremus injects smartly placed expressionistic cinematography to convey the abstractions of anticipation, loneliness, and nostalgia.  The result is a crafted and memorable little film that resists Hollywood convention and strongly speaks to the stubborn perseverance of love, while reminding us how tenuous romance can be.