'Like Crazy' breaks hearts (and breaks big) at Sundance
Image Credit: Chelsea Lauren/Getty Images UPDATE: The film has become Sundance’s first big sale, with Paramount Pictures picking it up for $4 million, according to sources close to the deal.
Like Crazy played, well, like its title during its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on Saturday afternoon.
It’s the kind of festival film that doesn’t feature big stars, but is likely to create them. The romantic-comedy-drama from director and co-writer Drake Doremus is the story of an L.A. guy and a British girl (Anton Yelchin and Felicity Jones) who fall in love during college and spend the next few years struggling to stay together as immigration and work issues wedge a continent and an ocean between them. The mood in the theater was similar to two years ago, when (500) Days of Summer played the same venue and had people crying, laughing, and reaching for the hand of the person next to them — hopefully not a stranger.
Perhaps the only viewers to rush from the theater once the credits ended were studio scouts, and all eyes will be on the inevitable distribution deal this film is able to make. The rest of the audience stayed rooted to their seats, peppering the actors and the filmmaker with questions about the creation of this partially improvised film. Anything this intimate is bound to come from personal experience, and Doremus acknowledged it’s influenced by his own long-term, long-distance relationship. So has the girl who inspired this movie seen it yet? “No she has not — yet,” he said, laughing, from the stage during the audience Q&A session.
Last year, Doremus was at the festival with the warring-brothers comedy Douchebag, though there is universal agreement that Like Crazy is a very, very big departure from that movie’s dark humor.
Early reviews of Like Crazy have been almost as heartfelt as the film itself: Gregory Ellwood of Hitfix.com wrote that Like Crazy “will rock anyone who has had the chance to truly fall in love at one point in their life. I have no problem admitting I was balling at least four or five times during the film and it was mostly for happy moments in Drake Doremus’ triumph.” Hollywood Reporter critic John DeFore said Yelchin and Jones’ characters’ “first encounters are almost impossibly sweet, so much so that viewers may involuntarily hold their breaths when, under the covers, Jacob eventually asks, ‘what are we going to do after graduation?'”
As with (500) Days of Summer, the cast isn’t entirely unfamiliar, but the actors are showcased here like never before. Yelchin has been in films for years, first as a child in movies such as Hearts in Atlantis, and lately as Checkov in the Star Trek reboot. Jones is a relative newcomer, having co-starred with Helen Mirren in the recent adaptation of Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Jennifer Lawrence, last year’s Sundance breakout with Winter’s Bone, co-stars along with Charlie Bewley (who plays the vampire Demitri in the Twilight films) as other potential lovers the long-distance couple meet at their loneliest points. Lawrence wasn’t able to attend the screening due to filming of X-Men: First Class, in which she plays the blue shapeshifter Mystique.
Star Trek, Twilight, X-Men, Shakespeare … It’s a nice ensemble for a little movie. “We only cast people in franchises,” joked Like Crazy producer Jonathan Schwartz.