By Katie Mansfield

Long-distance relationships on screen normally illustrate endless plane rides, Skype and the leads moaning to everybody who will listen about how hard their new life is.

Not Like Crazy, directed and co-written by Drake Doremus, a beautifully realistic tale of your first real love and a film which explores the everyday challenges of being together while being apart.

Taking top jury honours at the Sundance Festival with leading lady Felicity Jones scooping up the Best Actress prize for a newcomer, Like Crazy, succeeds in making the ordinary seem heartbreaking.

College student Anna (Felicity Jones) is a poetry writing, whisky drinking, middle class Brit who falls hard for classmate Jacob (Anton Yelchin) a sketching, furniture making American.

The super-speed photo-like montage of their summer in bed mixed with days at the beach and simply doing nothing is a welcome change as this story of a huge love misses out all the traditional elements cinema-goers expect.

The absence of the first kiss, the big declarations of love and sex gives way to the more quiet in-between moments.

As the two fall head over heels causing Anna to outstay the terms of her visa, they are forced apart when she is refused entry back into America after attending a relatives wedding.

From this point the film then follows a more interesting path as they are forced apart and the highs of falling in love are replaced by the difficult reality of a long-distance relationship.

The missed phone calls, the nervous tension when they are reunited and the tired arguments are all too familiar and that is what makes this film brilliant.

The intimacy of quiet moments between boyfriend and girlfriend give way to nights out with friends, their careers taking off always with an almost deafening silence of the others absence.

One mention of America to Anna, by a boy in a pub, has her subdued as she struggles to reconcile her two lives and live without Jacob.

Their whiskey-fuelled romance is stylishly done with Dustin O’Halloran’s haunting piano playing over rollercoaster rides and dancing on the beach.

It all sounds so clichéd- but Doremus has successfully made a film as quirky as 500 Days of Summer without the cheese-thanks in large part to Jones’ original endearing performance.

As the film spans seven years in which the couple drift apart, stay together and fall for others, 90 minutes does not seem to do it justice but Doremus doesn’t miss a beat.

Every nuance, every moment of solitude in a crowd is captured as transatlantic love loses all of its glamour.

Jones and Yelchin improvise much of their dialogue which makes the scene where an initial argument over checking Jacob’s phone descends into the eerily familiar “don’t shout at me, I’m not shouting” and “have you cheated?” row as the viewer is sucked into their world and you find yourself taking sides.

Yelchin’s performance marks a departure from his previous blockbusters such as Terminator Salvation and Star Trek and the slower pace suits him. As he struggles to balance both Anna and new girl Sam (Jennifer Lawrence) the torment is clear on his face.

His occasional fits of jealousy borne out of his own indiscretions and paranoia could make the viewer question why Anna loves him but Yelchin’s innocent charm wins you round as he plays a boy exhausted by the hassles of long-distance love.

As off-camera texts are sent and break ups ensue the love struck pair await the Embassy’s decision on Anna’s visa, while more conveniently located singletons make their way into the mix.

Jennifer Lawrence easily provides the most heartbreaking character of the whole film (no mean feat with only about a dozen lines), as Anna and Jacob’s relationship blurs from great love to something neither of them are willing to fully let go of.

Equally brilliant are Alex Kingston and the scene-stealing Oliver Muirhead as Anna’s parents and seemingly her only confidantes as they too take Jacob into their lives.

The duo maintain the right balance of comedy and parental guidance as Muirhead has the cinema laughing and Kingston expressing quiet concern, both with a single expression.

Aside from Jones’ standout performance what really gets under your skin is the soundtrack which elevates the all too familiar relationship pattern to make Anna and Jacob’s relationship different, and poignant.

Made up largely of O’Halloran’s piano, the soundtrack also provides gems such as Paul Simon, Stars and M83 to perfectly capture the heady days of first love and the devastation that comes with it.

Like Crazy is the most natural and realistic love story on screens at the moment and looks set to be the beginning of something huge for Jones and Yelchin.

An unnerving yet familiar tale which will stay with you long after you leave the cinema- a good date film, but, best avoided if you are in a long-distance relationship.

About The Author

Simon Fitzjohn

Simon is a journalism tutor in London, who also just happens to be a movie fanatic, with a craving for the darker side of cinema. He has written two books, one on the horror films of director Bob Clark (2014) and the other on the history of the character Norman Bates (2015). His third book, on the work of British exploitation director Pete Walker, is due in 2017.