|October 28, 2011|
|Ben York Jones|
|Drama, Indie, Romance
Rated PG-13 for sexual content and brief strong language
Drake Doremus is probably not a name you are familiar with. Either was I until a few days ago. But Drake Doremus is the brilliant director of the independent film “Like Crazy” which is now known for winning the Grand Jury Prize (as well as an acting award) at the 27th Sundance Film Festival.
“Like Crazy” follows two college students as they embark on their first true love. The couple, Jacob and Anna, played wonderfully by Anton Yelchin and Felicity Jones, fall head over heels in love and begin spending every moment together. The plot may sound completely familiar, but the kicker comes when Anna, who is from London, over stays her student visa. When Anna is banned from entering the States, their relationship is strained and tested.
From frame one, it is hard not to fall in love with these characters. Yelchin and Jones form the key to any engaging love story with chemistry that drives into the end scenes of the film. With only a fifty page outline for a script, improvising all the dialogue, and shooting six days straight through four weeks, everyone involved in this film displays the best of their unique abilities in a way an audience is rarely allowed to witness.
The supporting roles help the film develop even deeper, with Jennifer Lawrence bringing her lovable presence, following her highly acclaimed performance in “Winter’s Bone” to yet another Sundance winning film. Her friendship with Yelchin outside of the film was described as the pivotal element for their heartbreaking chemistry on-screen. Also, Anna’s parents, played by Alex Kingston and Oliver Muirhead, bring the subtle comedic elements to the film and allow as a mirror for the emotions that the viewer most often feels. Even Charlie Bewley, as Simon, helps drive the viewer to feel exactly how Doremus wants them to feel. A film is only as good as its supporting players and this film is ethereal on all levels.
Style and meaning exude out of every frame of this film and each selected moment with this couple appears both thoughtfully structured, yet carelessly organic. The framework and cinematography of the film brings you even closer to the couple, experiencing an almost voyeuristic view into this couple’s uphill battle to stay connected. Explained beautifully as “a constant look under the covers of a relationship”, both Doremus and Yelchin described the process of filming as very intimate, with the set consisting mainly of just the two actors and the director of photography, with Doremus “popping his head under the covers” every so often.
The camera was described as spontaneous; constantly filming (over 90 hours of footage), with the actors oblivious to when the camera was actually rolling. “Like Crazy” takes a step away from the standard Hollywood schematics and brings to life a painfully truthful and touching glimpse into a couple’s life. Just the sheer emotion experienced throughout the film is enough to make “Like Crazy” a longtime favorite. There is always something so enriching about a film that evokes an entire spectrum of emotion in such a short period of time.
“Like Crazy” delivers in a way that causes you to leave the theater wanting more, in the best possible ways. You feel like you, yourself have fallen in love and gone through the emotional struggle that the characters have endured and, in my own experience, makes you long to fall in love and feel these same emotions for yourself. Only a top tier film could cause such a guttural response, making “Like Crazy” a film that will definitely follow me throughout the ages.
Drake Doremus may just be getting his feet on the ground as a director, but with his definitive style, huge improvisation background, and passion and intimacy with his actors, (as well as his writing) he will definitely bring a unique feel to all his future films and will hopefully rub off any fellow independent directors following in his footsteps. Expect to see Doremus’ name in the near future, with the Academy Awards just around the corner and “Like Crazy” proving to be a shoe-in for more awards.