So I know Like Crazy is supposed to be one of those guilty pleasure movies you shouldn't really seek out unless it falls at your feet via cable or Netflix. But who am I kidding? I'm a sucker for stories about two college kids in a monogamous relationship. That being said, the film, written and directed by Drake Doremus, defies the expectation of being completely maudlin and is, instead, a more than faintly harsh account of how love can wane and fade as a result of too much time spent apart.
Doremus, allegedly influenced by his own marital issues (his Austrian born ex-wife, Desiree Pappenscheller, endured the same immigration issues as the heroine of Like Crazy), depicts the joys and subtleties of first love in an almost entirely visual manner.
Of course, with so much riding heavily on the abilities of his actors, it makes sense that Doremus would cast semi-unknowns (or at least not box office draw types) in the roles of Jacob (Anton Yelchin) and Anna (Felicity Jones). So much of Doremus' script requires Yelchin and Jones to discreetly communicate a nuanced expression that conveys what they are feeling.
An outspoken, self-assured English girl, Anna has no trouble being the first one to make her affections toward Jacob known. After writing him an elaborate note (wherein she puts the disclaimer "I hope you don't think I'm a nutcase") and placing it on the windshield of his car (what's nutcase-y about that?), Jacob calls her and asks her out.
The way that Doremus chooses to film Jacob and Anna's first date is almost overly contrived, though extremely prophetic, as neither is framed in the shot together for the whole of the lunch--divergence being the point that Doremus wishes to drive home. From the moment they part ways after that day, they find it impossible to stay away from each other for very long.
With Anna's student visa about to expire at the end of her last semester, both parties feel their depression looming at the prospect of being separated for the summer. In order to say a proper goodbye, Jacob and Anna go to Catalina Island for a few days, exchanging gifts and vows of unwavering devotion. The morning that Anna is supposed to go back to L.A. to catch her flight, she informs Jacob that she cannot bring herself to leave him. And so, for the rest of the summer, they barely leave their bed--only doing so when Anna finally has to return to England in August for a wedding.
The consequences of Anna overstaying her welcome in Los Angeles are felt tenfold when she attempts to re-enter the country as a tourist. Immediately, Anna and Jacob seem to realize that their summer together was a moment's worth of pleasure for a lifetime's worth of pain. Exiled back to London, Anna tries to "make it work" with Jacob for a time, but they soon agree that it would be best for their mental health if they simply severed all communication with each other.
This decision results in complete and utter misery on both sides and Jacob quickly grabs a flight to London to visit her. This conundrum of how to spend as much time together as possible while still maintaining stable career paths plagues them for the entirety of their temporally fragmented relationship.
Even when it does ultimately "work out" in the end, it's conveyed in this incredibly bittersweet manner, as each of them knows that their hearts are no longer in it. But, when you've fought for something for so long, it's hard to admit that it wasn't what you thought it was going to be when you finally get it. So, in many respects, Like Crazy reiterates one of Oscar Wilde's most infamous quotes, "There are only two tragedies in life: One is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it."