‘Like Crazy’ opens 20th Annual Philadelphia Film Festival at University Of Penn

October 21, 2011

Jim Teti
Philly 2 Philly

The red carpet was laid down, the drinks were flowing, and a very elegant regal atmosphere showered the halls of the Annenberg Center for Performing Arts at University of Penn Thursday night.

That’s because the venue was the new home to the opening night festivities of the Philadelphia Film Festival, celebrating a noteworthy 20 years of existence this fall.

There were several stars and philebrities present, including Mayor Nutter as well as Andrew Greenblatt, Executive Director of the Philadelphia film society, who was there to introduce the opening night film, Like Crazy.

Like Crazy is one of two love stories, Greenblatt explained, that bookend the festival. I can’t speak for the latter film, but Like Crazy is a bittersweet lukewarm tale that lacks connection but also shows incredible promise for rookie director Drake Doremus.

Doremus was actually on hand and present at the screening, answering questions in an extensive Q&A after the credits rolled. He also spoke briefly before the start of the film, explaining he thought it was important to show how long distance relationships play out and the difficulty and mixed emotions that come with trying to hold it all together.

The film does indeed revolve around a long distance relationship. In the opening moments, we are introduced to Jacob (Anton Yelchin) and UK native Anna (Felicity Jones), two individuals that unite instantly and become unabashedly in love. That’s of course until she ignores the expiration of her temporary visa come summer, deciding to remain a few additional months. When customs gets a whiff of the illegal activity as Anna tries to return for a visit, she is expelled back to Britain and that’s when the struggles begin.

The film chronicles the two, as they ignite and break up their relationship repeatedly over the course of several years, encountering significant obstacles at every turn. Both end up in other unfulfilling romantic relationships, only to be drawn back to each other, despite being on opposite sides of the world.

Like Crazy does make a valiant to attempt to show that when it comes to love in all its messy glory, there are never any real answers, just various shades of grey. If the film has one significant strong point, it’s how effectively it translates the difficulty of decoding the very fickle emotions that persist when it comes to managing relationships. The grass is always greener, and extensive time apart can be a cruel catalyst in the destruction of a coupling, as shown in a variety of both obvious and unforeseen ways here.

That said, Like Crazy doesn’t work overall. It has moments of truth, and some very wise observations about love, but it moves like a snail and there is a distinct sense of intimacy missing from these leads- crucial to any love story. Yelchin is a little flat, but Jones does have some very powerful moments on her own (apparently Doremus recruited her from none other than Facebook). Their chemistry together is sadly lacking though.

In the end, Like Crazy is a flawed but promising start for the Doremus, whose work here will likely lead to bigger projects. He spoke after the screening, indicating the film is a reflection of his own personal experience. There is no doubt that his passion bleeds all over certain aspects of this effort, and there will likely be great things to come as he matures and hones his craft as a director.

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