Friday, June 8, 2012

Like Crazy

Plato pitted rationality against desire and passion, with the latter needing to be harnessed by the former. Pascal said that "the heart has reasons that Reason cannot know", elevating love to a higher epistemological plane than rationality. Brokeback Mountain advertised love as a "force of nature" - uncontrollable, like a hurricane, impartial with regard to who it comes upon and apathetic to the suffering it may cause. Damned if you deny it. Just as damned if you don't.

Into this ongoing story of love stepped Like Crazy, a film about transatlanticism that would never leave the two lovers alone. But rather than absence making the heart grow fonder, their repeated absences only makes them needier, less trusting and trustworthy. What began as a source of vitality degenerates into a deadly disease eating away at their souls. The love portrayed cannot be lived without and cannot be lived with. It is at once keeping alive and killing.

The film does a reasonable job of telling this canonical trope, with love not so much being care for another as it is addiction to another, the love story resembling the efforts of two junkies desperately chasing that same high that made them who they are. It doesn't hurt that one of those junkies is the beautiful Felicity Jones, who also played the love interest in Cemetery Junction. Jennifer Lawrence is in this film too - a fact definitely worth mentioning. I also like that the man's job in this film is furniture making. It's a nice reminder that it's okay for a man not to have to wear a suit to work.

I can't say I was emotionally moved by the film, however. I'm not averse to crying in front of moving pictures, but this one elicited no tears, no strong desire for how the story should end. I never quite entered the lovers' solipsistic world. How could I?

One final note: the actors apparently improvised much of the dialogue to give the film an air of realism. I wonder if it works like that? As Ian McKellen explained in Extras, acting is pretending to be something you are not. Improvising could be described as pretending not to be an actor, which amounts to a double pretence. Does that make things more real or less? I suppose the proof is in the pudding, so you'll just have to see for yourself.


  1. i would have thought improvising is more like pretending to be something your not without the help of other peoples words to guide you. Its still pretending your just using your own pre-conceived ideas about what the character would say rather than the script writers.

  2. I suppose the way I see it, the improvisation in this case is a sort of sham. The actors were certainly not free to tell their own story. They were constrained by the narrative, which had to end a certain way. A script acknowledges this fact, plots the story line by line, and from there the pretence begins. Improvisation removes the scriptural constraint, thus it pretends even more than a scripted piece that these actors really are the characters they portray. Hence why improvisation might actually give less of a realistic feel than something scripted.

    I don't know if you've stooped as low as I have and watched The Hills or Made in Chelsea or Fade Street (the Irish version of these shows which aired a couple of years back). As far as my knowledge goes, they all spawned from an idea by MTV to show "the real Orange County", as opposed to the Orange County depicted on the fictional television show The O.C. This is a more extreme version of what I'm getting at, but the same point remains: The REAL Orange County that MTV filmed was perhaps even more fake than the fictional television show. There was a sort of double pretence.

  3. Appendix A

    There is something to be said about how this relates to what we call "real life" also. To what extent are we utterly free agents who can make our own stories turn out the way we'd like, where every moment is filled with infinite potentialities? To what extent are we improvisers, constrained by a narrative constructed for us by society/family/peers/church etc? And to what extent are we reading from a script that we've memorised and from which we draw upon in our day to day lives without much cognition on our part?