Like Crazy (Drake Doremus, 2011)

I’m backkkk!!! I caved and had a grilled cheese and turkey sandwich for lunch. And I’m kinda craving another one, just about now…

Anyways, enough about my obsessions with food. This post is about one of the best love stories I’ve seen in ages, Drake Doremus’s Like Crazy (2011). Like Crazy, starring Anton Yelchin and Felicity Jones as lovers Jacob and Anna, is a very honest portrayal of a trajectory of a modern romance. The story begins while the two are in college. Jacob, studying furniture design, and Anna, training to become a journalist though her first love is poetry, meet and fall in love while studying in LA. Upon graduation, a wrench is thrown in their perfect romance when Anna learns she must return to the UK, her country of origin, for the summer or risk violating her student visa. On Anna’s last day in the States, she withdraws from Jacob, pushing him away in her sadness – a reaction that foreshadows the rocky, imperfect romance that is to follow. Though Anna ends up staying and violating her student visa so that she and Jacob could enjoy a summer of bliss, the consequences of her decision prove to be significantly more painful on the young romance than would be a summer apart: the pair is forced to live apart on separate continents, continuing their relationship via half-hearted phone calls and infrequent visits, during which each recognizes the coolness and distance that is growing between them. Despite evidence that they are no longer in love with each other, the two delude themselves into believing that they are, that the coolness that has developed between them is a temporary symptom of their long-distance relationship that will surely disappear once they can be reunited once and for all, out of a naive and idealistic desire to preserve their first love.

What makes Like Crazy a winner in Hollywood’s love of romantic dramas is its realism, its emotional honesty. The dilemmas and emotions Jacob and Anna are faced with in their attempts to keep their relationship alive, the guilt, the weariness, the confusion, seem very real and true. This commitment to emotional realism is carried out until the very end of the film. The concluding scene of Like Crazy strongly reminds me of that of Mike Nichols’ 1967 classic The Graduate. Just as the thrilled expressions on Dustin Hoffman’s Ben Braddock and Katharine Ross’s Elaine Robinson’s faces gradually begin to disappear as their escape bus drives off into the distance away from Elaine’s wedding to another man, as the pair begins to realize how the capricious, split-second decision that they made has created a hazy, ambiguous future for the two of them, Like Crazy also ends on a less-than-happy note. SPOILER ALERT! After getting married and moving back to LA after many years apart, Jacob and Anna shower together only to realize that their passion for each other has permanently cooled. Their expressions, while initially happy, fade into dissatisfaction as each realizes they have just bought into a lifetime of unhappiness out of their idealistic desire to make their first love work.

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