I enjoy a good movie about a doomed romance. Especially if you put a question mark at the end. “A DOOMED romance?” That way you can guess whether the romance will succumb to being doomed, or whether it will turn around because love exists. Fun game! So, appropriately, I had been looking forward to seeing Like Crazy since I first saw a trailer at the beginning of August. It looked great! Right, LADIES? Not to be polarizing, but — right, ladies? For those of you who don’t know, Like Crazy is the story of a British college student named Anna and an American college student named Jacob. They have a beautiful falling-in-love montage at the beach, fall in love for whatever reason, and then have to be separated after Anna overstays her student visa and is no longer allowed to enter the US. It’s not an uninteresting take on the story of a long distance relationship, and it’s obvious that both Anton Yelchin and Felicity Jones are very talented and attractive, but the real question is: WHO EVEN CARES ABOUT THIS COUPLE? Ugh, I am so mad about this movie. Can we talk about it? Lots of spoilers after the jump, so be careful, but let’s talk about it.
We first meet Anna and Jacob in a college classroom. Anna is at a podium, reading from her well-written paper about social media. Jacob is in his seat, sketching chairs in his notebook. And thhheeeennnnn we’re finished learning about the characters of Anna and Jacob. The end! Those are their traits. Anna is a writer and Jacob “designs furniture,” but is pretty much only ever seen sketching and making chairs. We get it, YOU LIKE CHAIRS! Also they both like Paul Simon. I forgot to say that part. Those two things, and then the thing they have in common is that they both like Paul Simon. Also they’re both horrible people, but we’re getting ahead of ourselves.
They spend a year together before the drama of the movie actually begins. We see them go out to dinner with Anna’s parents, we see Jacob give Anna a chair he made for her, and we see a montage of silly moments. The end. Again! There doesn’t need to be a lot of time spent on beginning of their relationship, as that is not really what the movie is about (see: DOOMED) but if we’re expected to believe that this is a couple whom we should be rooting for (or, at the very least, believing to an extent that makes the movie feel like it’s worth watching) during the ups and downs of their long-distance struggle, we’re going to need a moment of actually watching the couple interact, which we do not get. Ever, pretty much.
The night before Anna is supposed to leave for the summer (in two months she would be able to return on a work visa), Jacob gives her a bracelet with the inscription “patience.” Anna gives Jacob a scrapbook full of memories, none of which we ever got to experience or understand the significance of. What makes me so upset about this setup is that it so transparently preys on the viewer’s own memories of THEIR first significant relationships, in lieu of actually providing a reason to care about this couple’s. “I remember when we were leaving college and were unsure about how we’d maintain our relationship.” “I remember when he met my parents for the first time.” I remember when we rode stupid go-karts and somehow had a picture of us riding the go-karts even though we were both IN the go-karts at the time and how could we even have that picture?” It absolutely helps and feels great(/terrible) to be able to connect with a sad movie about a relationship, but purposely leaving out any significant character traits and basing your entire premise on your audience’s vague, let’s-be-honest-trite memories is just upsetting and condescending. Anyway, while they are in bed the night before she leaves, Anna decides to say “fuck it” to her expiring visa and stay in the US for the summer. OH, PERFECT. Cue the NEXT montage, no joke, this is then followed by another montage of them waking up every morning. (Three montages already, at last count.) And then cue Anna not being able to re-enter the US after she goes back to the UK for a wedding because she violated her visa, because the whole DEAL with this movie is that neither of these people really have any “patience,” unlike the bracelet suggests, which is a fine deal I guess, but again, THEN WHY SHOULD WE CARE ABOUT THEM? Ugh. Ok. So she can’t get back into the US.
This is when the real garbage begins. So, we already know nothing about these two characters other than that they are in a relationship and say “I love you” to each other. Anna gets sent back to the UK and gets a job at a magazine. Jacob stays in the US and starts making chairs for people or whatever. Everyone in the audience is thinking about their own difficult relationships and early chair-making and projecting them onto the movie screen ahead of them. Blah, blah, blah, they both go to bars, they’re living separate lives, and then Anna calls Jacob and tells him to come visit. They talk about how many people they’ve slept with and decide “not to talk about it.” WHOA! Wait. What? It’s fine if they’re in an open relationship, and that would certainly make enough sense, but when did they decide that?! It is never even suggested that they were talking to each other after Anna got sent back to the UK. And THEN right before Jacob leaves, Anna asks if it would be easier if they could see other people. Jacob gets upset. Anna says she doesn’t want that, but thought Jacob might. “It’s Complicated,” for sure. CUT TO: JACOB IN ANOTHER RELATIONSHIP AFTER HE GOES HOME. Oh, I am getting so mad now!
At this point, it is clear that he and Anna have decided to call it off for the second time. Thank god. Jacob is now in a relationship with Jennifer Lawrence from X-Men: First Class. [Ed. note: See Jennifer Lawrence in next summer’s A Hunger Game!] Anna is put in charge of a blog back in the UK. Blah, blah, blah, one night Anna texts Jacob saying that she needs to talk to him. He ignores it at first but then calls her. He says, “I thought we agreed that it was over.” She suggests that they GET MARRIED. He breaks up with Jennifer Lawrence and then goes to London and marries Anna. UGH I WANT THEM TO BOTH JUMP OFF OF A CLIFF TOGETHER.
So, they get married. Because they love each other, just not enough to ever stay together. But then there is another problem, which is the old problem, which is the visa thing. Anna still won’t be able to go back to the US for another six months. OH NO, NOT SIX MONTHS! That’s basically forevvvverrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. (Do they know how marriage works and how long it lasts?) So Anna asks Jacob, who is SKETCHING A CHAIR, OF COURSE, if they could discuss the idea of him moving to London “again.” He says, “It would be hard.” THE END. LITERALLY END OF CONVERSATION. What? You can’t sketch chairs in London, Jacob? Don’t tell me you can’t because you’re doing it as we speak. You can’t learn the metric system? Is that it? WHY CAN’T YOU MOVE TO LONDON?
So, blah blah blah, they’re upset about the six months thing, and they get into a fight because Jacob is still texting with Jennifer Lawrence (because she worked for him and apparently still does) (after he broke up with her and married someone else) (get a new job, Jennifer Lawrence!), and Anna won’t give Jacob a straight answer about whether or not she slept with a friend of hers. They yell at each other. Anna says not to yell at her in her own house. Jacob says he wants to be back at HIS house. Cut to: Jacob back home, back in a relationship with Jennifer Lawrence. Anna, still in London, is now in a relationship with the guy Jacob accused her of sleeping with. WHILE THEY ARE BOTH STILL MARRIED TO EACH OTHER! BECAUSE THEY COULDN’T WAIT SIX MONTHS!
Then, the new guy Anna is sleeping with, whom she is now living with, proposes to her. UH-OH! SHE’S ALREADY MARRIED! Was she ever going to tell him about that? Was she ever going to deal with the fact that she was married at all? Yoops. Who cares. Later, she gets a call saying she can go back to the US now and responds, “I didn’t think this would ever happen.” Oh, really? Not even when they told you that it would happen in six months? Is that why you IMMEDIATELY entered into a serious relationship with that friend you slept with as soon as Jacob left? Also, if you didn’t think it would ever happen and wanted to move on to another relationship, why didn’t you just get divorced?! Yeah, well, whatever, so she finally goes to the United States to be with Jacob. And Jacob, in preparation for her arrival, breaks up with poor Jennifer Lawrence for the second time. You should’ve known better, Jennifer Lawrence! This guy is clearly the worst!
So, Anna moves in with Jacob. They say a few words, like three words, to each other. They take a shower together.
We understand here, through use of alternating between flashbacks of the happy montages from earlier in the film and shots of their currently unhappy faces, that after all the trials and tribulations, they have fallen out of love. Had we been given any reason to care about either of these characters, or their flimsy relationship, this would have been a poignant ending. Sadly, by this time their relationship has become so pointless and convoluted that even viewing the character’s actions as reflections of our own boring romantic failures doesn’t work. We can no longer connect, and are left merely watching two terrible, childish strangers whose relationship is so weak that the idea of maintaining even a long-distance marriage for six months (!) was too difficult. So, what is the point? They don’t care. I don’t care. Nobody cares!
On the other hand, though: The movie certainly looked very nice.