After a recent experience with films showcased at Sundance Film Festival, my expectations were not high for this film. The multiple taglines ‘I want/need/love/miss you’ screamed at me like an air raid siren, and when I watched the trailer, I was equally nonplussed. After five minutes of watching, I once again felt a terrible pang of emotion, pining once more for my bed, wishing I hadn’t got up so early to watch this. Then something happened – I’m not sure what, exactly – and I became engrossed in this bittersweet love story, and didn’t really want it to end.
Felicity Jones plays Anna, a Londoner studying for a year abroad in LA, when she meets and falls in love with Jacob (Anton Yelchin). Their whirlwind romance progresses, and their love grows ever stronger. Upon graduating, Anna has to face the moment they both knew was coming: Anna’s student visa has run out and she must return home. Rather than obey the law, she decides to violate her visa and remain with Jacob in the US. Eventually, when this decision catches up with her, she and Jacob must try and find a way to make their relationship work with an ocean between them.
The film’s script was mostly improvised, and this shows in certain scenes, leaving weird awkward silences akin to those of Made in Chelsea. Then again, the scenes with this awkwardness are an accurate portrayal of what would happen in real life (such as a first date with someone you met through a high school-style love note left on a windscreen) and, as such, the acting expertise needed to get these scenes as real as possible shines through.
There are moments in this film that will leave you shouting at the screen in frustration at all the stupid things the characters do. On the other hand, when you are young and madly in love, as these two are, you DO do stupid things, no matter what the consequences are. You get paranoid, you worry, you take risks, you argue over silly things, you forget about everything else. So whereas some of this film may seem like a haphazard concoction, it is actually a detailed insight into the nature of summer flings and the unexpected turns they can take without warning, and it manages this right up to its very abrupt ending.
If you go to see this expecting a cheesy Hollywood love story, you will walk away disappointed. All in all, this was a very well-thought out movie with brilliant acting and music to boot. There were a bit too many close up shots of bare feet, though, which was a bit weird. I thought Anton Yelchin was hot until I saw his feet.