'Like Crazy' Makes First Love Feel Real

"Los Angeles Times" and "Morning Edition" movie critic Kenneth Turan calls the Sundance standout "Like Crazy" a simple love story. It's about a young couple divided by geography.

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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

When the movie "Like Crazy" debuted at Sundance in January, it won more than the Grand Jury Prize. It also won over film critic Kenneth Turan.

KENNETH TURAN: If you're experienced enough to understand love's fragility, but still romantic enough to embrace its power, "Like Crazy" is for you. It features fearless acting by Anton Yelchin and Felicity Jones, and it brings compelling intimacy to the push and pull of love, longing and regret. Jacob and Anna meet as classmates in an unnamed Los Angeles college. He's a quiet, dreamy local furniture designer. She's British, a crisp and brainy writer confident enough to leave a note to him on the windshield of his car. Soon, they are very much in love.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "I CAN'T HELP FALLING IN LOVE WITH YOU")

INGRID MICHAELSON: (Singing) Wise men...

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "LIKE CRAZY")

FELICITY JONES: (As Anna) I thought I understood it, but I didn't - only the idea of it, of you and me.

TURAN: But love, in movies as in life, is rarely without complications. Because Anna is British, she has to deal with the restrictions of her visa, leading to impulsive decisions which impact their lives in ways they can't begin to imagine.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "LIKE CRAZY")

JONES: (As Anna) I'm going to stay.

ANTON YELCHIN: (As Jacob) You can't do that.

JONES: (As Anna) Why?

YELCHIN: (As Jacob) Your visa.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (As character) What's going to happen, you will be placed on the plane immediately and return back to the UK.

TURAN: "Like Crazy" is inspired by a situation in writer-director Drake Doremus' own past. It examines how its characters deal with the strains of long distance relationships. We see how strong Anna and Jacob's love is, but whether that strength will be enough is a question that's harder to answer. Filmmaker Doremus had his cast improvise off a detailed scene outline he provided. The results are so emotional and so truthful that "Like Crazy" makes first love feel as real for us as it does for the characters themselves. And that is no small thing.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SHAPIRO: Kenneth Turan reviews movies for MORNING EDITION and the Los Angeles Times.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SHAPIRO: This is MORNING EDITION, from NPR News.

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