Tell Me You Love Me

Article excerpt

Byline: Ramin Setoodeh

How the inventive and improvised 'Like Crazy' became fall's sweetest romance.

Like Crazy is a punch to the gut, and one of the most brutally honest love stories of the year. There's a reason for that. This independent film was improvised by its lead actors, 22-year-old Anton Yelchin and Felicity Jones, a bewitching 27-year-old from England who delivers a star-making performance. She plays Anna, a foreign-exchange student swept up by her new American boyfriend (Yelchin). After going home to England, she's denied reentry to the U.S. because of a visa problem, and the complications from living apart nearly consume them. The film's use of improvisation lends the characters a kind of authentic mumble rhythm we've grown accustomed to from the half-scripted world of reality TV--but with more sophistication. Their dialogue is everything a relationship should be: complicated, funny, sexy, memorable. If only the stars of The Real World and Jersey Shore were this articulate.

Hollywood has been allergic to the art of courtship lately. Two recent hit movies about 20-somethings--No Strings Attached and Friends With Benefits--explored the virtues of casual sex. Like Crazy's realism sets it apart, and helped it land the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance this year. "People hear the word 'improvise' and think actors do whatever they want," says director Drake Doremus. "It's actually very specific. Every detail, plotwise, is in the outline. It's about the execution of finding those beats. …