March 18 2013 12:00 AM

Felicity Jones and Anton Yelchin were made to be together — or were they? — in 'Like Crazy'


You don’t have to have endured a long-distance relationship
to appreciate “Like Crazy,” but if you have, you’ll have no trouble identifying
with the yearning, the worrying and the loneliness that consume Jacob (Anton
Yelchin) and Anna (Felicity Jones), a couple separated — in a bitterly ironic
twist of fate — by their desire to stay together.

Typically, many affairs that start on campus burn out by
graduation day. “Crazy” is concerned with happens when a romance continues
beyond what should have been its expiration date.

Shot on digital video and crisply edited, the drama focuses
on the emotional evolution of two people trying to maintain their feelings for
each other as outside forces try to break that bond. While the no-nonsense
screenplay by Ben York Jones and director Drake Doremus doesn’t exactly
reinvent screen romance as we know it, it does hit on a number of solid points
about the nature of passion. By any standards, it's far more thought-provoking and potent than "Breaking Dawn, Part One."

It doesn’t take much more than a couple of shy smiles and a note
on a car windshield to bring together Anna, a journalism student from Britain, and
Jacob, a classmate with a passion for furniture design. Doremus puts his faith
in Jones and Yelchin to demonstrate how quickly affection can grow. The stars (who
improvised much of their own dialogue) don’t let him down.

The lavender-voiced Jones is particularly wonderful as she
illustrates how Anna’s intelligence and ambition are sometimes undercut by her
impulsiveness. Faced with the painful prospect of enduring a few weeks away
from Jacob, she makes the bold decision not to go home to London after her
student visa expires. She’s a woman in love, which she mistakenly believes
gives her permission to write her own rules.

“We can stay in bed all summer!” she bubbles to Jacob — and,
in one of the film’s most charming sequences, a rapid-fire montage shows them
doing exactly that.

What Anna and Jacob don’t yet know is that connections and
commitments that seem completely logical and natural when you’re in college can
be devilishly tricky to maintain in post-graduate life, as new jobs and new
friends slip into the picture. Jacob gives Anna a silver bracelet inscribed
with the word “patience”: At the time, neither of them realizes how much of
that they are going to need.

While instant-messaging and Skype may make separation a bit
less grueling (and they’re certainly more immediate and less expensive than
sending letters or making overseas phone calls, as earlier generations had to
do), they aren’t particularly terrific substitutes for hugs and kisses.

The sturdy supporting cast includes Jennifer Lawrence as
Jacob’s co-worker, who’d like to be more than merely a gal pal, Alex Kingston
and Oliver Muirhead as Anna’s understanding parents and Charlie Bewley as the London
lad determined to prove he’s Anna’s Mr. Right.

“Like Crazy” ends with a powerful moment of intimacy that can
be read at least a couple of different ways. Doremus firmly believes that if
someone is truly special to you, out of sight doesn’t necessarily mean out of
mind. Still, the movie asks, at what point should you stop following your heart
and start listening to reason?