'Like Crazy' an authentic look at young love

Felicity Jones and Anton Yelchin star in “Like Crazy

The indie drama “Like Crazy” follows two 20-somethings who, separated by a visa problem and an ocean, struggle to determine if the electrically romantic relationship they experienced in college is worth pursuing.

Anyone fed up with weepy, phony love stories will likely root for this film, which deals realistically with the survival potential of young and long-distance romance and tells its story intimately, intricately and generally without contrivance.

But while director and co-writer Drake Doremus keeps things inspired and engaging, his movie needs more emotional power.

Doremus (“Douchebag”), whose method involves creating a substantial story outline and having his actors improvise dialogue, starts things off at a Southern California college, cutely.

Classmates Anna (Felicity Jones), who is British and writerly, and Jacob (Anton Yelchin), who is American and designs furniture, begin dating after Anna leaves an admiring note, ending with “Please don’t think I’m a nutcase,” on Jacob’s windshield.

The romance is intense and exhilarating until Anna overstays her visa and, busted, lands back in England. Apart, the two experience longing, unease and resentment. They start careers and find new love interests (Jennifer Lawrence, Charlie Bewley), but their feelings for each other persist. Should they give their relationship a fresh go? Has it all been just a delusion?

The film starts strongly. Doremus, who has cited French New Wave cinema and Lars von Trier’s “Breaking the Waves” as influences, provides an immersing, close-up look at young love.

Captured with handheld camerawork, the young lovers have a spontaneous and truthful quality as they drink coffee from humongous cups, or erupt into laughter, or look thunderstruck by what they feel.

Unfortunately, however, the drama loses emotional steam after the separation occurs, and that’s most of the movie. The specifics of the transcontinental dynamics — ill-timed phone calls, Jacob feeling alienated when visiting Anna in London — are interesting, but the characters don’t go anywhere compelling enough to move us deeply.

More brightly, Yelchin and Jones handle Doremus’ improvisational approach fine and finer, with Jones bringing a wealth of shades to Anna.

Alex Kingston and Oliver Muirhead as Anna’s parents, whose favorite subject is whiskey, supply the most entertaining moments.

MOVIE REVIEW

Like Crazy

★★½

Starring Felicity Jones, Anton Yelchin, Jennifer Lawrence, Charlie Bewley
Written by Drake Doremus, Ben York Jones
Directed by Drake Doremus
Rated PG-13
Running time 1 hour 32 minutes

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