A few weeks ago I had gone to see "50/50" and a trailer played for this movie during the previews:
It's called "Like Crazy" and it's about a couple who meet and have a long-distance relationship. Having dealt with my own trials and tribulations in that area, I knew immediately that I had to see this movie. So yesterday as part of the Philadelphia Film Festival, I went and watched this film that was the darling of "Sundance" this year.
Anna is an exchange student from England who meets Jacob in college a few months before graduation. We start out seeing how their relationship begins and then how it's ultimately torn apart by her Visa issues banning her return to the US; both struggling to hold onto their love at so many thousand miles away. It's at this point that the movie begins to emit a feeling that perhaps only those of us who have been in a long-distance relationship can really relate to.
In one of the reviews I read for the film online, the viewer said that they felt a certain disconnect between the characters; that they were annoyed that the relationship is just given to them in bits and pieces, scenes of fun times the couple spend together laughing and playing, and that there's never any strength in the development. Well, that's kind of the point. There's never any progression of their relationship because there never can be while they're on two opposite sides of the globe.
While visiting Anna for the first time in England, Jacob complains "I don't feel like I'm a part of your life. I feel like I'm on vacation" and Anna laments how hard it is for them to keep always starting and stopping. That's how long distance relationships wind up working out unfortunately. You're always stopping and starting, having to pick up where you last left off; not just physically, but emotionally as well. You really do just feel like you are always on vacation, that you're not a permanent fixture in that other person's life. You don't get to experience their daily routines, hang out with their friends and family, to really nurture and grow that bond between you because you are always leaving. Perhaps I related to this movie most of all because, while Anna and Jacob are separated, they are basically going on with their own lives - moving forward in their careers, seeing other people while still having a deep emotional connection with each other inside - and that's basically how my relationship with Emmett played out.
Other films I've watched about LDRs have the characters frequently Skyping and texting or emailing, but sometimes when you're both in areas with such extreme differences in time zones, it's better to just stop trying to make it work after awhile. This is essentially what happens with Anna and Jacob. In the beginning they are trying to get their times synced; One night while out at a bar, Jacob calls Anna, who herself has just come home and is already in bed and he wakes up her. In another scene, Anna is leaving Jacob a voicemail and struggles to figure out what time 5 PM her time would be in his time so that they can talk in real time. While Jacob is able to come visit on a few occasions, the relationship is stunted because Anna can't reciprocate as she cannot enter the US due to her previous Visa ban. Anna's father jokes at dinner that maybe they should just get married and solve the issue altogether, but they brush it off as they are both still young and growing.
The most gripping part of the film for me was when Anna calls Jacob crying while he's out with his new girlfriend. She tells him that she loves him and can't live without him; he's the only one who understands her, understands how she thinks and feels, and no one else gets it. I started bawling because that's exactly how I feel with Emmett. No one gets me like he can, no one else can ever possibly understand like he can. Then, she says that they should just do it. They should get married so she can get the Visa and come back to America. Jacob agrees and heads off to England where they get married. According to Anna's lawyer, they will only have to wait six months after the wedding and they will be able to get her the spousal Visa needed to come to America. Unfortunately, because the issue with Anna's Visa came from the Student office, the judge cannot grant the marriage visa until they lift the ban. And so, the couple must part ways and live apart once more. They both return to the partners they were seeing in the meantime and going on with their lives, their marriage on the back burner.
Eventually, the day finally comes where the ban is lifted and Anna is able to travel to America. But at this point, so much time has passed, it's as though Jacob and Anna have become strangers. In the final scene, Anna arrives at Jacob's loft and everything seems so awkward, as they're unsure how to interact with each other now that Anna is here for good. Anna decides to take a shower at Jacob's apartment and he joins her. While they try to embrace and kiss, to rekindle their romance and enjoy this monumental moment that they had been waiting so long for, both are at quite a distance with each other emotionally. It's a complete contradiction to the affectionate wedding night scene between the two that we witness earlier. Suddenly, Anna walks out of the shower, leaving Jacob under the running water and the film ends.
The audience started laughing, perhaps out of discomfort, with a sense of 'That's it?? That's the end??", but I don't really think that anyone fully understood the meaning of that scene. Jacob and Anna had built this relationship up so much, they had worked so hard to fight with the Visas, to eventually be together, that - at the point when they finally got to be together for real - they just weren't sure that was what they wanted anymore. I completely understood because that's been my biggest fear. That if there were ever a moment where Emmett and I got to finally be together in the same place, at the same time, would I still want it? Would the feeling still be the same?
Or was it better to just always be on "vacation"?