Editorial: The Blame Game in “Like Crazy”

Just a warning, there will be major spoilers to the film, Like Crazy, in this post.

Like all well-made films that are character-based, especially those of the romantic nature, I found myself scrutinizing the situations and wonder how genuine it is and whether or not I would act the same way. In Like Crazy, we meet our two protagonists, Anna and Jacob, as they fall in love during the first ten minutes of the film. You might think that these scenes were rushed, but that’s all we really needed: ten minutes. Because after all, it’s easy to fall in love, but it’s difficult to remain in love and that’s what the majority of the film focuses on.

Ebert suggests that Anna was in love more than Jacob was, but I’m not sold on that theory. What happens is that Anna overstays her student visa the summer after they graduate. She does return to England for about a week and then travels back to Los Angeles, but she’s contained at the airport and is sent back to England because of the violation. How long will it take for Anna to be allowed back into the states so her and Jacob can live happily ever after? No one knows.

In the meantime, they live separate lives in separate countries. While they try to stay in close touch with each other, it’s just too much with the time difference and their growing, busy lives. Jacob starts up a design business and his work slowly flourishes. Meanwhile, Anna pays her dues as an assistant until she is granted a promotion as a blog writer and then junior editor of the magazine. Even though they both live their own lives, they both feel something missing in their daily routine: each other.

Ebert suggests that Jacob should’ve simply moved to England if she was denied access to America because of the immigration officials, and because he didn’t, that means Anna was more in love than he was. I disagree and believe that the film did a spectacular job at balancing how much both Anna and Jacob loved each other equally. That was one of the strengths of the film and why we were pulling for them throughout. Anna and Jacob shared a rare love that could only be felt when they were together.

But why didn’t Jacob just move to England so they could be with each other? I believe Jacob didn’t move to England because he played the role of any typical man and was logical to the situation. Jacob clearly wasn’t as scholarly as Anna, so it is assumed he would struggle more she would in starting a career in a foreign country. Once he established himself in a serious career, it would devastate him to leave it all behind and start over. And to be fair, he established his career with his design business while Anna was still an assistant picking up coffee and dry-cleaning for her boss. It would’ve been a much easier transition for Anna, and one that made a lot more sense.

I don’t fault people who believe that Anna was more in love than Jacob because at a quick glance it does seem that way. Anna was more of the central character than Jacob was, and her character was definitely fleshed out with more depth. We see her relationship with her parents, understand her good-nature and a life that was far from the lower-class. All we get out of Jacob’s family is a minute-long conversation when he first spends time with Anna. Also, Anna is able to express herself a lot more openly since she’s a writer. Keeping a notebook full of poems, notes, and pictures of how Jacob made her feel that first summer was a gesture that is impossible to top. But Jacob did the best he could by expressing to her with the only way he knows how to: by designing her a chair. In my opinion, both were equally romantic.

While I have already stated that there’s no one to really fault in how chaotic Anna and Jacob’s relationship turned out to be, the title of my post suggests that I’m going to point the blame at one of them. Unlike Ebert, I’m not pointing the blame at Jacob because of the theory that he wasn’t in love with Anna. The blame should be directed at Anna. Hear me out.

The root of their problem stemmed from the fact that Anna violated her student visa. That snowballed into an on-again, off-again relationship that resulted in a very unhealthy, yet passionate, situation where Anna and Jacob couldn’t be with anyone but each other. But when they do overcome all of the obstacles, the fire that they once shared had faded and all that was left was a feeling of what they once had. Will their nostalgia and comfort be enough for them to last a lifetime? Were their blank expressions just a sigh of relief that they were finally together? Or did it suggest that their unwavering love for each other has been through the grinder too many times?

I can’t put all of the blame on Anna, because it was a mutual decision by both of them for her to stay beyond her student visa. But to be fair, she put him in a tough spot by telling him she was going to stay the summer with him. What happened there was a young girl allowing her heart to overcome her mind, which I hate to say it but is usually the case. She was spontaneous and only wanted one thing at the time: to be with Jacob. She didn’t think of the consequences nor did she think of the future. All she thought about was what she was feeling at the very moment of her decision. Needless to say, it was the wrong choice and it caused a lot of pain for them both.

For the rest of the film, there really wasn’t much that hinted if one of them had stronger feelings than the other. Jacob visited Anna when he could, but during that visit Anna avoided to answer if she slept with any other guys when they were apart. It was a fair question because she was the more attractive of the two and certainly wouldn’t have to wait long for another guy to ask her out, while it seemed that Jacob spent a lot of his time focusing on his business. Did she sleep with other guys while they were apart? We’ll never know, but her silence certainly implied that she did.

To balance that out, Jacob did find himself in a relationship with his beautiful assistant, Samantha. Here was a woman who was aware of his past with Anna and was more than patient when he slipped up like saying the wrong name or secretly taking phone calls. Jacob really did hit the jackpot when it came to Samantha, but Anna kept creeping back into his life. Anna also found herself in a serious relationship with her neighbor, Simon, but things never had the same spark with him. There was always something reminding her of Jacob, like her bracelet breaking, the lack of whiskey in the apartment, and her writing chair.

It seems to me that Jacob was doing a better job at getting over Anna than she was at getting over him. This doesn’t mean that she was in love with him more. It’s just a traditional insight at the difference between men and women. Men are as capable of loving as much as women are, but when push comes to shove, men are logical. Jacob was doing well when he met Samantha and was even able to restrain himself from answering her texts. On the other hand, Anna allowed her heart to confuse and clutter up her mind to the point that she didn’t know what she wanted anymore. When push came to shove for her, she resorted back to when her heart felt the fullest, and that was with Jacob, her first love. But can anything really triumph the feeling of first love? According to Like Crazy, the answer is no.

If you haven’t figured it out already, I thoroughly enjoyed Like Crazy. It took a very close glance at a young romance and presented the realities of how love can be affected by obstacles. What I’m curious is to what will happen next between Anna and Jacob. Clearly, the past several years have taken a toll of their love for one another. Will they be able to give each other enough to live a happy together? There is no doubt that they will at least try, since they’ve been trying so hard for so long. I’m afraid that in the end, the question isn’t going to be “Will they be able to work things out?” but instead it will be “Will they be able to admit it to themselves if things don’t work out?” Unfortunately, I don’t believe they will.


2 Responses to Editorial: The Blame Game in “Like Crazy”

  1. jamie says:

    I really like this review. I was really excited to see this movie (Anton Yelchin? Yes please.) and this just made me even moreso.

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