English bird Anna (Felicity Jones, sweet, vulnerable, resilient) and Yankee Jacob (Anton Yelchin, simple, frustrating) fall hard for each other just before graduating college in California. Anna overstays her visa to lie around in bed with Jacob all summer, and finds she can't get back into the country after a spell back in her homeland. What follows is the strain of long-distance relations and bad timing, and it's painful to watch, not because the film is poorly done, but because you know what's coming. Maybe you've lived it, maybe you know someone who has. There is no pain like the lasting sting of regret, of what's been lost and cannot be retrieved, and the tension between the young, infatuated couple here is palpable. Jacob's character is almost maddening in his decisions that ultimately lead you to curse him as a coward (maybe I'm projecting here). Elsewhere, the film is completely ignorant of the current economic climate—both Jacob and Anna springboard into generous careers upon graduation, and fly back and forth over the Atlantic seemingly without a financial care.
But all that is outside the scope of Like Crazy, presumably by design. Few other characters register a strong presence in the story, and with close-knit shots that seldom show any more than the two leads, be they together or alone, director Drake Doremus deftly captures that insular period when you're completely stupid for each other and nothing else matters. It's a feeling you'll only ever know in the shortsightedness of youth, and when it's gone, you're among a lucky few if you ever get to feel it again. Thus, it's also a film about how timing is as important as anything. For a relationship drama, Like Crazy is refreshingly provocative, and by smartly avoiding a cloying ending, it's about as real as young love gets.