Relationships are hardly the sugar-coated fairy tales that Hollywood makes them out to be. Thank heavens for the indie flicks that portray them as they really are – shaky as hell roller coasters that often derail, yet somehow occasionally manage to get back on the tracks. 'Like Crazy' shows stupid young love and romance in a realistic light - like 'The Graduate' for a new generation.
Spanning nearly four years, 'Like Crazy' walks you through the relationship of Jacob (Anton Yelchin) and Anna (Felicity Jones). The film quickly establishes the beginnings of their relationship so we can get to the meaty part of the story. Anna is a British girl attending a U.S. university on a student visa when she meets Jacob. They start dating just months before the two are set to graduate, at which time Anna's visa will expire and she'll have to return to England. The plan is for Anna to go home as scheduled, stick it out for two and half months so that she can attend her cousin's wedding, then return to Jacob's arms back in America. On the eve of her their temporary physical splitting, Anna decides to blow off her student visa's expiration date by staying the summer with Jacob, fly home specifically for the wedding and come back to the U.S. as a tourist afterward. Anna's new plan doesn't sound bad, but she has grossly underestimated the severity of overstaying her welcome.
Upon re-entering the U.S. after her cousin's wedding, Anna is not admitted to the country. Instead, customs agents escort her to an immediate return flight and she's banned from the United States of America. From there, 'Like Crazy' is an exploration of the toll that long distance relationships take on couples – not matter how crazy or head over heels the two may be. The resulting relationship is off-again/on-again with Jacob and Anna always thinking of one another in the back of their minds. While separated, Jacob pursues a relationship with his beautiful, fit and fun employee Samantha (Jennifer Lawrence). Anna, however, becomes married to her job. No matter how comfortable or satisfied the two feel with their situations, they keep coming back to one another. Imagine a worth-watching and outstanding version of 'One Day.'
Despite being a mostly scriptless film, 'Like Crazy' features a beautiful screenplay. The story is genuine and 100 percent honest. It explores the reality of relationships, not only showing the cutesy sappy parts that we're all guilty of, but the crappy arguing and anger-inducing moments as well. The sugary sweet beginning of the film will remind you exactly what it's like to fall in love for the first time. The depressing down and dark moments strike such an honest chord that they'll make you feel bad and embarrassed for the times you've gone through similar experiences and make you want to put more effort than ever into your current or future relationships.
The vision of writer/director Drake Doremus would not have been possible without this more-than-qualified fresh young cast and the collaborative efforts of his crew. Yelchin and Jones aren't new to the screen, but they prove more than ever that they have what it takes to carry a film and are more than deserving. Lawrence already proved herself with 'Winter's Bone,' so her small role here is only further evidence that she's worthy of the major Hollywood roles that she's landed since - 'X-Men: First Class' and the upcoming 'Hunger Games' series.
The behind-the-scenes talent is just as noteworthy. I can only imagine how hard it would be piecing together a movie with almost entirely improvised dialog, but the film's editing makes it flow smoothly and intelligently. The original scoring is moving and perfectly fitting. Each of the elements that went into making 'Like Crazy' enhance the emotion and tone for the better.
Being a realistic romantic drama with the makings of a classic love story, there's no reason that it shouldn't be wildly popular. With it's PG-13 rating and young cast, you'd think it was some cheesy teen-friendly fanfare, but in actuality, 'Like Crazy' serves as a solid cautionary tale for the young audiences as well as the adults and married couples.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
Paramount has placed this Vantage title on a Region A BD-50 in an eco-friendly blue keepcase. Included is a code for a free Ultraviolet copy of the film. The artwork is subtly awesome – the focus of the image draws you to look at the lovey-dovey couple holding hands, but when you look at the background you'll realize that to his side is a Southern California beach and to her side is an iconic cityscape of London. Nothing but a Paramount HD vanity reel plays before the main menu.
The 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 transfer of 'Like Crazy' is sub-par for mainstream movies, but above average for cheap little indie flicks. Shot digitally, the image is always clean and clear, but the Canon EOS 7D cameras and the lighting used don't allow for the sharpest and strongest of qualities.
The video quality of 'Like Crazy' inconsistently switches back and forth from sharp and detailed to unfocused and soft. One close-up will reveal the tiny pores on Felicity Jones' face, while the next will make Anton Yelchin's stubble look like dark smudges. This inconsistency can be noticed throughout the entire film.
Colors are bright and vibrant, but there are many instances of over-saturation. Many settings warrant this look – bright club lighting or sunsets – but some offer no valid reason for it. The film goes for a natural feel, but the way that the detail-eroding lighting is portrayed on screen isn't natural. Fleshtones are so vibrant at times that over-saturation results. Black levels are decent, but the film's overall contrast is abnormal. Darks are overly obscure and brights are blinding. Both ends of the spectrum tend to remove fine details.
Aliasing frequents the entire film, but banding only shows up for one very tiny instance at the 54:30 mark. Edge enhancement and DNR are never applied. Artifacts and noise also aren't a problem.
The lossless 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track of 'Like Crazy' features the questionable directorial decision to make everything sound raw and real - even if that leaves certain key sounds inaudible. While the environmental sounds are decent, the dialog is the clear victim.
Too much of the vocal track is lost because of raw audio, as if the mics are a mile away from the action. Quiet and muffled low speech can't be heard. To try to hear it all, you've got to constantly toy with the master volume track. You'll do this with such frequency that it becomes a nuisance. A great level of dynamics is lost along with the dialog.
All music (other than production music that occurs within the movie) is properly mixed to emit throughout all channels. The effects are also mixed in that manner, only effects don't enter the big picture until 18 minutes into the movie when Jacob and Anna spend their last day together at Catalina Island. This vacation is filled with brilliant environmental sounds – seagulls, waves, boats. When the locations and scenes permit it, the effects are fantastic.
While I love 'Like Crazy,' the audio quality really hurts the integrity of the Blu-ray.
As much as I love 'Like Crazy,' I can only recommend checking it out before buying it because of the sub-par audio and video qualities. Grasping the essence of falling in love for the first time and the frustration and anger than inevitably come from long distance relationships, 'Like Crazy' is a slice of reality that deserves to be seen. The content of the disc itself is much higher than the quality in which it's presented. The video inconsistently skips around from sharp and defined to soft and unfocused. The audio quality is nearly ruined by terrible raw vocal levels that leave quietly spoken lines and conversations inaudible without frequently adjusting the volume. The deleted and alternate scenes are decent, but the commentary is the meaty special feature that the release benefits from. If you love the movie as much as I do, then you'll want to own it despite its flaws. But if you haven't seen it yet, you might want to check it out before making the purchase.