Anyone who's had a long-distance relationship knows how challenging it can be. You get to see the person only sporadically, and when you're finally together, you sometimes have to work to feel at ease with one another. But, it can also be exciting and romantic, because you want to make the most of the time you have.
It'd be easy to say that all this is what Drake Doremus' new film, Like Crazy, is about. The movie— which opens Friday, Nov. 11, at Hillcrest Cinemas— stars Anton Yelchin as Jacob and Felicity Jones as Anna, two attractive young people who fall for one another toward the end of their time at an unnamed Los Angeles college. There's just one hitch—she's British, and in an impulsive whirl, she overstays her visa so she can spend the summer with him. Yes, that's romantic, but it has lasting implications. Anna gets the boot the next time she tries to enter the U.S., and the two of them are forced to try to make it work. The movie takes place over a number of years and over a number of stages of their relationship. It's equal parts sweet and painful, featuring a pair of performances that are so raw and honest that the film earned a Special Jury Prize at Sundance this year.
The emotions will be familiar to anyone who's dared to do distance. But, Doremus tells CityBeat, he doesn't think of Like Crazy as a long-distance-relationship movie.
“I describe it totally differently than most people,” he says. “I would describe it as a story about two people who try to move on from each other but can't. That's the thrust of the movie, the conflict of the movie, more than anything. It's actually that they are fighting to get over each other and cannot, and that's the most debilitating thing about the love.”
He should know—the movie is autobiographical. Doremus, who's 28, was 18 when he met the woman with whom he'd have a seven-year intercontinental relationship. He says that making the movie was a huge part of moving on from that part of his life.
“It's in my past, but in order to put it in my past, I needed to make a film,” he says. “I went through all that and had all these feelings and emotions swimming in me that were really, really personal, and I was, like, ‘I think I need to make a movie about this.'”
That's a young age to dedicate a life to someone else, especially when you rarely see that person, and Jacob and Anna are faced with some terrible situations over the years. Professionally, they're both having success, but Anna's visa predicament seems almost insurmountable. And though they're in love, and though they can't quit each other, they each have relationships with other people (Jacob spends some quality time with a woman played by Jennifer Lawrence). They make choices that seem unwise but totally understandable, some of which, Doremus says, he made himself.
“Love makes us do silly things, and love makes us do things we don't necessarily use logic to figure out,” he says. “Capturing the loss of logic and the naiveté was important to me.”
Nowadays, though, he's able to look at the decisions he made when he was younger with a little more perspective. Although everything he—as well as Jacob and Anna—decided to do didn't work out the way he'd hoped, he's not unhappy that he did it.
“I think I made the right decision for how I felt at the time,” he says. “I listened to my heart, and as an artist and a filmmaker, that's what I do for a living. So, in my life, I gotta do the same. If I hadn't gone to Europe, if I hadn't decided to make this movie, if I hadn't done so many of the things that I did in the name of love, I wouldn't be here today.”
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