Why "Like Crazy" Holds a Special Place in My Heart
Actor Anton Yelchin's untimely and tragic death shocked the world earlier this week when news broke that he was victim of a terrible, freak accident. To the world, he is perhaps best known for his role as Chekov in the rebooted Star Trek franchise. But to me, Anton Yelchin will always be Jacob, the soulful, endearing lead of the film, "Like Crazy," a film that is personally significant to me.
On a Friday night in spring of 2012, I was a freshman in high school, having a relaxing movie night. I decided to rent the latest indie release on iTunes, "Like Crazy." I was really looking forward to watching the film since critics were raving about it. But when the end credits rolled, I felt disappointed. I hadn't liked the film at all. The story was sad, the characters were selfish and self-absorbed, and the dialogue was at times, extremely boring. I much preferred "feel-good" movies: ones that elicited tears of joy, not tears of sorrow. "Like Crazy" left me feeling unsatisfied and dejected.
Yet, "Like Crazy," has stuck with me over the last four years, despite my initial dislike for it. It sounds cheesy, but freshman me just wasn't ready for the film. I had yet to experience a relationship, college, or anything else that the characters go through. I thought it was unrelatable, but it turns out that I just didn't understand it. Now, four years later, I get it, and I can fully appreciate the story that it tells.
The story focuses on Anna (Felicity Jones) and Jacob (Anton Yelchin), two college students who fall in love while attending university in Los Angeles. Anna, a British citizen, and Jacob, an American, are separated indefinitely after Anna overstays her American visa and is unable to return to the States. The characters are put under incredible pressure as they try to navigate a long-distance relationship, while maintaining independent lives. It's a story of intense love and longing and heartbreak. And it's one of the most realistic representations of young love that I've seen. Perhaps that's why it's so depressing - because of how real it is.
By now, you may have already heard of the success of "Like Crazy." Critics praised Yelchin and Jones' improvised performances; there was no official script written for the actors, only an outline. The film won the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival in 2011. Some criticize the plot for focusing too much on Anna and Jacob's relationship, but I think the centrality of their romance is what makes the film so real, and appealing to audiences. Everyone who has experienced a first love can relate to the characters. When you're in love, that other person becomes your world. Sometimes that's a good thing, and other times, a bad thing. The film captures both elements truthfully and beautifully.
If you haven't already watched "Like Crazy," I'd highly recommend it. It's a minimalistic, quiet sort of film, the kind that is so intimate, you feel like you're intruding on a couple's most raw and secret moments. The story still resonates with me today, even though I've only seen it once. I remember not necessarily the words said, but the images and the characters and the emotions that are so skillfully expressed by Yelchin and Jones. I remember how the film made me feel. And that's how memories work anyways - you remember how you felt, even if the details become obscured with time. Like a first love, "Like Crazy," will always hold a special place in my heart.