Like Crazy is the latest and most lightweight addition to a welcome recent trend of bittersweet, realistic semi-romances that includes Blue Valentine and Weekend. Like those films, it pits the delicate vulnerability of its central relationship against the unforgiving forward march of time, the passage of which, as much as distance, complicates the bond between young lovers. Anton Yelchin and Felicity Jones meet as college students at UCLA—he’s a TA and is studying furniture design, she’s British and aspires to be a writer. The two fall in delirious first love, but her visa’s only good until graduation. When she pushes it to stay for the summer before heading home, she’s not allowed back into the U.S. because of the violation, and the pair are left to embark on a painful, drawn-out, and sometimes exasperating affair of long-distance calls, flights, legal struggles, and tearful reunions.
The film, which is Drake Doremus’ fourth (he’s not yet 30) and reportedly draws heavily from his own history, sets itself up for a challenge it can’t quite meet by focusing so intensely on the transcontinental limbo portion of the relationship. Yelchin and Jones are apart far more than they’re together, and it often seems that it’s this difficulty that keeps them so stuck on each other. There’s no clear end in sight to their separation: Her impulsive disregard for immigration laws has stranded her where she is, and he’s reluctant to abandon his blossoming career to start over in a new country. The two actors are very good, particularly Jones, and display an unforced comfort in each other’s company, but they’re also such winsome little pixies that it’s difficult to take their grand romance as seriously as they do, even as it gets in the way of new relationships they attempt to start (with Jennifer Lawrence and Charlie Bewley).
Like Crazy has moments of genuine heartbreak, like a late-night phone call that leads Jones to tearfully joke that she’ll wait up and Yelchin should just stop by her place, half a globe away. But the film also verges into music-video territory at times, with its sunset walk on the beach and montage of mornings spent in bed, an association that adds to the overall callowness of its pairing, though years are meant to have passed. By the film’s latter half, we’re left not hoping its lovers will find a way to be together, but longing for them to get over each other and move on.