Like Crazy made a big impact at Sundance earlier this year, winning the grand jury prize for best picture, so it seemed like a reasonable choice for my first film at VIFF. After picking up my tickets at will-call, I rushed into the cinema on Granville St, and joined the excited throng being herded into the theater. I found the atmosphere of a festival to be unlike a normal movie-going experience. There is a kinship among festival goers, as every one understand that each other person, like them, has had their adoration of the cinema, at least once, classified as fanatic. Soon, the curtains opened and the excited chatter is hushed.
The film begins within a college classroom. British student Anna is giving a presentation, on what we’re not quite sure, but the topic doesn’t really matter. Her attention, and ours, is on the class TA. And almost immediately, we are immersed in their passion. Soon after, the two young lovers must face the strains of a long distance relationship when Anna, exquisitely played by Felicity Jones, is denied reentry into the United States.
The love story, a genre thought long-since exhausted, is reinvigorated with Like Crazy. This is an honest, and heartfelt, story for a modern love stressed but never broken. Never have I seen a film that has been equally romantic and believable. In this cynical age, one always seems to come with the cost of the other.
Great filmmaking helps share the characters’ passion and growing love with the audience. As the couple is courting, the camera switches between closeups of Anton and Felicity, creating an impression of intimacy. During the peak of their love, once they are comfortable together, the scenes are shot with a warm tenderness, showing the couple together in each shot at a medium distance. When rifts start appearing, these fragmentations can be seen by the physical distance of the Anton and Felicity.
If you are lucky, Like Crazy will move you as much as it has me. You will recall the little things, the tokens of their relationship, with great warmth as if you have lived it yourself. You may see a hand-crafted chair, or taste a particularly good whisky, or hear Paul Simon’s Graceland, and you will be brought back to that theatre, feeling what the characters felt. That is the mark of a great film.