Think of it as the Recession's Romeo & Juliet. Instead of fair Verona, we've got the sparsely decorated walls of L.A. dorm rooms and overpriced London flats. Instead of Mercutio and Juliet's nurse, we're limited to an underused Jennifer Lawrence and a pair of jovial, whiskey-loving parents. And it's not poison and daggers that threaten the wedded bliss of our star-crossed lovers, it's impenetrable immigration law and the dour encumbrance of working 'round the clock for one's living. Despite the title's implication of insanity, Like Crazy, directed by Drake Doremus, does nearly everything quite lucidly according to a principle of "show, don't tell" – an achievement for a small film dealing with content that usually gets one of two treatments, either saccharine or suicidal.
The main stars, Anton Yelchin (Star Trek) and Felicity Jones (Brideshead Revisited), not only deliver touching performances as Jacob and Anna, but they look and act their age. Yelchin, the kind of guy real-life girls develop crushes on but nearly half the size of Taylor Lautner's left bicep, plays a sensitive young man grown up too early (his father died when Jacob was a boy). Yelchin, in a much better fit than this year's Fright Night, plays the young furniture-designer with a reserved desperation: he doesn't want to lose the one person in his life who's given him that loving feeling. Jacob's also rather awkward; on a group date with Anna and her friends, he stands there dumbly as the girls' conversation runs away from him. Yup, sounds like your average hipster-heartache Joe.
Jones, in a flashier role than Yelchin but still finely underplayed, makes Anna a smart girl with sensible understanding of the important things in life. "I don't feel that young," she tells her boss, who's sympathetic about little Anna's strong feelings about a guy. Of course, one never feels one's age, but it takes growing up to learn that. It also takes really f***ing up with U.S. immigration authorities to learn how serious they are about people not overstaying their visit. Is it out-of-character for Anna to make such an irrevocable mistake? Yes. Does love make you do things that are out-of-character? Like crazy, it does.
The trouble with a film like Like Crazy – not unlike the trouble with mad, head-over-heels, true love – is the question of how it ends. Happily-ever-after? Surely not in a film so delicately fearful of cliche that it puts Anna's sophomoric poem, in which she writes of how she "knew only the smudge-ness of the idea of you and me," in the giggly context of don't-wake-up-the-roommate. Mass suicide? Possibly, but this ain't Shakespeare.