Monday, December 12, 2011

What I Saw: Like Crazy

What I Saw:   Like Crazy

I went into this movie ready to fight for the valiant young lovers torn apart by the cruelty of the American immigration system, but I quickly found myself turning into a curmudgeon. Perhaps it is because I know too much about the actual immigration system, but the set up felt ridiculous to me. I know people who have broken the rules in order to take care of their young children, and people who have followed the rules even at the expense of missing their parent’s funerals. But to have a character, even a young one (Felicity Jones), who was apparently one of the lucky few who could leave and come back in as little as three months, simply throwing caution to the wind without any realization of how brutal the system is, made me want to scream at the screen. The fact that her boyfriend (Anton Yelchin) had never bothered to learn anything about the immigration system when he started dating her didn’t help matters either.

Yes, it is unfair that young lovers should have to make such difficult decisions: That they can’t just be kids and make mistakes. And yes, the fact that it was her decision, made out of love, allows for some heartbreaking moments of blame and regret later in the film, as well highlighting the jolt of growing up and the loss of innocence. But mostly it felt like an excuse to focus on the generic challenges in all long distance relationships, while dodging a fuller exploration the internalized doubts that the immigration system thrusts upon people regardless of their adherence to its rules.

Despite these problems, I did enjoy the acting in this film, not only from Jones and Yelchin, but also from the supporting cast which includes Alex Kingston, Oliver Muirhead, Jennifer Lawrence and Charlie Bewley. Whether by accident or design, I actually thought the stars matched better with their secondary partners than they did with each other, which added extra poignancy to the last scene. And while the initial plot device seemed contrived, the reactions from each of the characters felt sincere, especially the losses that each of them suffered along the way. At times the system keeps them apart, and at other times it forces them together. Perhaps the lesson is that both can be equally painful.

Oscar Chances:

Things looked good for this film after winning two prizes at Sundance, but the lack of notices for Doremus in the recent critics awards, and particularly his absence from the Indie Spirit nominations for either directing or screenplay, significantly lowers his chances at a screenplay nod at the Oscars. Yelchin’s chances were always weak, since the Academy usually prefers their leading men to be a bit older. Which leaves us with Jones. She’s been picking up her fair share of notices, but I can’t help but think that the independent ingenue spot will go to Elizabeth Olsen or nobody at all.

Original Screenplay: Drake Doremus and Ben York Jones (currently ranked 5, but will drop significantly in next set of predictions)
Lead Actress: Felicity Jones (currently ranked 10)
Best Picture (currently ranked 22)
Lead Actor: Anton Yelchin (currently ranked 27)
Best Director: Drake Doremus (currently ranked 32)

My Lamb Score: 3 out of 5 Lambs
What is a lamb score? Click HERE to learn more.
Read more of my reviews HERE.


  1. There were moments where it felt a bit schmaltzy but then there were others where it felt emotionally true to these characters, mainly because of how well Jones and Yelchin played them. Glad you got to finally see this. Good review.

  2. I know this really has nothing to do with this movie, but I want to know. How com you don't consider any of the actors in The Beaver Oscar worthy? Many critics actually praised Mel Gibson's performance.

  3. Thanks Dan O. I saw the film late, and then took a bit too long thinking about the review, but such is life!

    @Anonymous, I've considered the Beaver each time (and I think it is actually on one of my longlists for screenplay), but each time I came to the decision that Gibson and Fosters performance wouldn't make the cut despite some of the good reviews. The reaons are a combination of the film being too small, coming out too early, and doing poorly at the box office. Plus, I'm not sure that Hollywood is ready to forgive Gibson yet for his actions, especially for a small movie that can be so easily overlooked. But I do always consider the film when I make my lists, I just think that other films have a better chance given the politics.

  4. The trailer is super sappy so I guess my main fear with this movie is that it's overly melodramatic. However, been hearing good things about this and I will definitely check it out when it hits DVD... I just can't bring myself to see this in theater ahahaa

  5. @Castor, Yeah, this is one where DVD would work fine. There's nothing particularly amazing in the visual department that you're going to miss out on.