This movie is almost painful to watch.
The Story: Aspiring Los Angeleno furniture designer Jacob (Anton Yelchin) and Brit exchange student Anna (Felicity Jones) meet and fall in love in the weeks leading up to graduation from a college in L.A.
The two kids try to maintain a long distance relationship when Anna’s student visa expires and she is forced to return to England.
Transatlantic telephone calls only make them want to reach out and touch and it isn’t long before Jacob is in London meeting Anna’s mom and dad.
Of course, the trip is only an emotional band-aid. Soon Jacob is back in L.A. and carrying on with Samantha (Jennifer Lawrence), a young woman working with him at his new furniture business.
Meanwhile, Anna has hooked up with a neighbour (Charlie Bewley) in Old Blighty to keep the homefires burning.
Both Jacob and Anna are eventually forced to make some hard choices.
Without giving anything away it is safe to say things do not work out as expected.
How It Plays: Writer/director Drake Doremus does wonders with a limited budget and shooting schedule. (Rumor has it he shot the whole thing in a matter of weeks with an inexpensive digital camera and a budget that wouldn’t cover Jack Nicholson’s coffee break.)
The performances feel fresh, genuine and naively charming.
And that’s part of the problem for this viewer.
So, Explain, Already:
Mr. Yelchin and Ms. Jones are so natural and believable in conjuring up the aching, wistful, so-near-and-yet-so-far feeling of young lovers separated by an ocean that I began to reflect on my own transatlantic relationship.
Although the relationship played out its little drama years ago, suddenly it felt up close and personal again.
In my case, the situation was reversed. I met a young woman a few weeks before setting off on an overseas adventure. (In fact, I even delayed my flight just as Anna overstays her visa.)
So, there I am, visiting all the cities and seeing all the sights I have been dreaming about for years and all I can think of is this young girl at home. Yes, I missed her like crazy.
Meanwhile, back on the homefront, the object of my affection/obsession drifted into a relationship with the man who would become her future husband.
I didn’t find out about The Other Guy until she joined me in Europe. (If I remember correctly, it was during a conversation near the Bridge of Sighs in Venice.)
According to Wikipedia “A local legend says lovers will be granted eternal love and bliss if they kiss on a gondola at sunset under the Bridge Of Sighs.”
(Perhaps that was my mistake. We went for a ride in a gondola, alright, but it was in the middle of the afternoon and I seem to recall we were having an argument as we passed under the above pictured bridge. )
Anyway, to make a long story short, I eventually followed her home and, needless to say, things didn’t quite turn out the way I expected.
But isn’t that the mark of a good performance? When you can identify with the character? Even if it is, in my case, a self-absorbed jerk like Jacob.
And I have heard that the mark of a good screenplay is that the viewer continues to imagine what happens to the characters even after the closing credits roll.) And that is what I was doing as I trundled off to the video store to return the DVD.
Mr. Yelchin and Ms. Jones are both rising stars, Ms. Lawrence has already hit paydirt with The Hunger Games and Mr. Doremus is currently Hollywood’s It Boy with bigger budgets being dangled in his face so it may be awhile before we see any of these folks in this sort of indie production again.
One can only hope that somehow Mr. Doremus can retain this kind of lightning-in-a-bottle intimacy in future projects.