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“Like Crazy,” reviewed

“Like Crazy,” reviewed (photo)

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I don’t know anything about Drake Doremus, the co-writer and director of the new movie “Like Crazy,” but based on this film I have to assume he has some first-hand knowledge of long-distance relationships. That’s because I have some first-hand knowledge of long-distance relationships and I can tell you that for the most part this movie’s portrait of one is dead-on. This movie is so good and so true it’s almost too painful to watch. We fall in love with its characters as they fall in love with each other, and then we have to sit there helplessly as they suffer. This thing is like a romantic drama for torture porn fans.

Its victims are two charming and beautiful young people, an American named Jacob (Anton Yelchin) and a Brit named Anna (Felicity Jones). They meet in a class at a college somewhere in Los Angeles; he’s studying to be a furniture designer, she wants to be a journalist. In a flash, Jacob and Anna are inseparable, but school’s almost over, which means Anna’s visa is going to expire. The night before she’s supposed to leave, the couple exchange gifts: she gives him a handmade book about their relationship, he gives her a bracelet engraved with the word “patience.” Anna should have listened to her jewelry; instead, she impulsively violates her visa and spends the summer with Jacob. But when she has to return to England for a wedding, the Department of Homeland Security won’t let her back into the U.S. Now she’s stuck across the pond and these two sweet, innocent people who want nothing more than to be together are separated by thousands of miles and one effed-up bureaucracy.

This part of the film, where Jacob and Anna reluctantly adjust to life apart, particularly struck me with its attention to lived-in detail: the passion of first kisses after a long journey, the awkward silences after someone accidentally brings up the untenable nature of the relationship, and the way a visiting lover becomes the odd man or woman out in awkward social situations. Eventually, Jacob and Anna’s story diverges from my own (thank God), but even with less to relate to on a personal level, I never lost my personal investment in the characters. Credit Yelchin and Jones for their effortless chemistry, which shines through even when they’re acting with an ocean between them.

Credit too to Doremus, for making a love story that is somehow heart-warming and brutally unsentimental all at once. He conveys an awful lot of information in this movie with very little dialogue, and he gets that young love is all about nonverbal communication, something that’s translated directly to the style of the film. Notice the way the passage of time is marked not by title cards but by the evolution of the couple’s cell phones, from old school flip models to modern iPhones. Doremus’ visual and editorial choices are sometimes flashy but they’re always informative. Anna and Jacob’s post-college summer zooms by in a peppy montage of still photographs, the perfect way to convey how the best of times seem to slip away quicker than the rest.

“Like Crazy” won the Grand Jury Prize at this year’s Sundance Film Festival and it’s easy to see why. Good acting, good filmmaking, plus something elusive that most Sundance movies about romance lack: sincerity. Doremus doesn’t couch his love story in ironic detachment or hipster quirk, nor does he burden it with contrived villains or subplots. Anyone who’s been in a long-distance relationship can tell you that was the right decision; long-distance relationships are dramatic enough on their own without that stuff.

“Like Crazy” opens in limited release on Friday. If you see it, let us know what you think. Leave us a comment below or write to us on Facebook and Twitter.

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at IFC.com

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

Uncle-Buck

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.



Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…