A filmmaker’s immigration nightmare inspired the most romantic film of the season
Like Crazy is perhaps the definitive long-distance relationship movie. In it, a British exchange student in LA, Anna (Felicity Jones), and her American classmate Jacob (Anton Yelchin), fall head over heels in love. They’re so mad about each other that when Anna’s visa runs out she carelessly stays on for two months, setting in train a series of events that will tragically separate them.
“The emotional journey and the sheer exhaustion really stuck with me,” he says. “I would describe Like Crazy as a movie about two people who try to get over each other but can’t. They’re forced to be together because they love each other.”
The low-budget film, filmed on a Canon EOS 7D still camera (a device more frequently used for holiday snapshots), is extraordinarily powerful thanks to the performances of the two leads, and the fact that all of their dialogue was improvised. Watching the movie is like eavesdropping on raw moments between a real-life couple.
Doremus and his co-writer Ben York Jones wrote a 60-page outline in just two months and went into production almost immediately. “Because it wasn’t a complete script we were able to find a lot of the emotional moments in the rehearsal process. We found a lot of them on set as well.”
The penny began to drop about just how effective Jones would be in the film in a scene during the first date between Anna and Jacob where Anna reads him a poem she has written. “Felicity actually wrote that poem. I had never heard it, and Anton had never heard it, until the first take. It was like, ‘Wow – this is coming from the inside out.' Her commitment to the character was profound and inspiring.”
Doremus has made an impassioned movie that’s both a poignant love story and a demonstration of how the world’s jealously guarded borders can make life impossible for the most innocuous of people. Does he feel any lingering anger or sadness about what he and his ex-partner went through?
“Not at all. The opposite. If I hadn’t gone through that, I would never have made this movie, which has done so much for my career. And I’m grateful for having had that experience with another human being and having felt that much love at that time of my life.”
Like Crazy opens on Mar 1.