Yesterday I was finally able to see the movie I've most been anticipating for months: the indie rom-dram, Like Crazy. I've gotten into a really bad habit lately of falling in love with trailers and setting up my expectations sky high. What can I say? For me, ever since (500) Days of Summer, the bar has been set unbelievably high..and I've been craving another like unto it. I've just really been waiting to fall in love with a film like that again...one that takes a fearless and truthful approach to examining relationships. Every time a new one emerges I start to hope, but when I see it....there's just always something that's just off. The flaws have ranged from too much melodrama, unlikable characters, second rate production skills, or not enough of the whimsy of being in love. But this gorgeous trailer with its likable cast, real to life plot, and beautiful imagery of two young lovers, as well as its Sundance awards and national critical acclaim to boot meant that this was a guarantee that I was gonna love this movie like crazy right? Well....that's the thing about expectations: nothing is a guarantee. BUT...that's not to say I didn't enjoy the film. I actually liked it a lot....I just didn't love it, and I really really wanted to.
Ironically, the whole movie is about expectations, and loving the idea of something far more than the actual thing. I can get that that is what the characters are doing....but what's frustrating to me, is that as a viewer I can't see the WHY of their motives or actions. Now, it's possible I was negatively affected by the fact that I saw the trailer way too many times. I was disappointed when I found that every scene that established their relationship I had already seen beforehand....and so I was left wanting to learn more of why their connection was so unique and amazing. I was told it was so by characters many times, but I didn't really see scenes of some deep bond....instead, I saw two people in the early stages of infatuation. I can see how maybe that was the point, but for me to be sold on the type of connection portrayed here, I need just a little more. The two stars Anton Yelchin and Felicity Jones both give terrific performances, and can almost make you forgive the weak establishment of their relationship...ALMOST. But not quite. Perhaps I would have been more forgiving of the lack of conversations between the two if I had felt that we as an audience were witnessing the sensation of love, and experiencing their firsts (I love you's, kisses, etc) along with them. But it was all just too fast and lacking substance (aka montagey).
Here's the thing. (And yes, this is where you knew the inevitable 5DOS comparison would come in,) In Summer, we came to find out in the end... SPOILER ALERT that Summer was all wrong for Tom. BUT, the film showed us why he thought that she was the only one for him, and what was unique and special about her to him. So we fell in love with the idea of them together too. Like Crazy showed a very realistic portrait of two people in love, but why they were in love we could not say. I get that might not have been the filmmakers goal to get into that, but if you're telling a story like this and you want it to stand out from the rest, this establishment is key. Why? Because it makes the audience feel there is something at risk, and it invests them in its protection. And, if you're using a line that one of the main characters Anna uses,"what I have with you, I don't have with any other person," you better back that up with clear cut examples...because she looked just as happy with love interest #2. Show me the difference, don't tell me the difference.
So that's the thing about expectations, they can kind of let you down when you've set them really high....or if you just happen to have a very tall measuring stick. HOWEVER, that doesn't mean they have to get in the way of noticing and appreciating the strengths. In fact, a part of me wants to go see the film again knowing full well what to expect and see if I feel a little bit differently...because the movie did have a lot to love about it. As I said, it felt very real...and I just loved that. Though not a lot of depth was really shown, the characters did feel lived in and authentic....I just wish I could have gotten to know them more. There were several scenes between them that really were just lovely, including the final scene which made the whole thing worth it. Seriously....it redeemed a LOT of the film and summarized the entire film beautifully. It had a very Graduate feel (haha even though I still haven't seen it...I just know.)
So anyway, I wanted to fall in love with the movie...but I just didn't. Maybe I will on subsequent viewings, but for now...I only like it as a friend :) I'd give it a 7.5 I think.
Also, I'd like to say I'm very interested in a lot of the cut footage from the film (the director said they had enough improvisations to create a whole other film...maybe there were a bit more conversational moments that would have improved it for me...) So, hopefully, a DVD version can shed some light for me. And even though I found the conversations in the film lacking in defining their bond, I have to say I really am impressed with the improvisations of these two actors who only had a script outline to work with. They really did become the characters and it showed...but a bit more dialogue between them while their relationship deepened couldn't have hurt. Improv that! Haha