JACOB (Anton Yelchin) and Anna (Felicity Jones) are two university students in LA who meet at a writing class where Jacob is an assistant and Anna delivers speeches about “monetised mass communication” which should get her marked down in the comprehension section.
She’s a Brit, he’s an American and they quickly fall in love in a series of montages that include a race along a beach, a moonlight kiss and a tinkly piano accompaniment.
When her visa requires her to return home to England, Anna impulsively decides to stay on with Jacob for the summer instead because he gave her a bangle. Consequently, once she does leave the US, she’s barred from returning. This places a continent and several time zones between Romeo and Juliet, and, despite all the hyperventilating love scenes, neither are keen to give up the jobs they have found in their respective countries: he’s making furniture, she’s blogging for a women’s magazine. Then they start dating other people (Jennifer Lawrence, right, for him, Charlie Bewley for her), although the film is vague as to whether this is surreptitious or tacitly endorsed as pragmatic. In any case, Anna and Jacob can’t quite quit each other and keep reconciling.
Director Drake Doremus has conceived this as a love story viewed through the incidental moments rather than crunch scenes, and the result is a series of aggressively improvised tepid conversations. Actually the most interesting people in the movie are Alex Kingston and Oliver Muirhead as Anna’s parents (Jacob seems to have no relatives) who push the couple’s romance onwards with their encouragements and deep pockets. Why are they so keen to pimp out their daughter to an inarticulate, diffident American boy they hardly know? Here’s another question: why don’t Anna and Jacob Skype each other? And, as Anna’s father observes about halfway through the movie, why don’t the two of them just get married and save us all a lot of time and money?
They can’t, of course, because Like Crazy has a lot more sighing and hand-wringing to get through. I appreciate what the film’s trying to explore: the stubbornness of early ardent amour in the face of all realistic obstacles, but the solipsism grates and there are so many blanks in the story that it’s hard to find all this terribly gripping, although a tube ride to Heathrow wordlessly sketches out the wrench of separation rather well.
With its arthouse earnestness, Like Crazy is a gruelling exercise in trying to care about a sweet but shallow couple who lack gumption and plane tickets. The performances are fine, the scenery is pretty. I just wasn’t crazy about the movie.
• On general release from Friday