‘Like Crazy’s’ love affair doesn’t seem like true love

"LIKE CRAZY" tracks the imperiled, intercontinental romance of two young lovers.

Anton Yelchin is Jacob, a soulful woodworker who falls hard for Anna (Felicity Jones), the British journalism major who sends him a comical mash note one day after class.

And why not?

Who wouldn't go weak in the knees after getting an unsolicited love letter from Jones, with her gorgeous green eyes and adorably shy smile that reveals a set of fantastically irregular British teeth?

I haven't been this smitten since I saw Kate Beckinsale's overbite in "Cold Comfort Farm."

Anyway, Jacob and Anna are soon enjoying the natural high of being the cutest couple they know - she's writing him a fanciful biography of their romance, he's making her a writing chair.

I have to say, though, I immediately and consistently failed to believe in this love affair, which is handled in a semi-verite style by director Drake Doremus - we're meant to feel as though we're accidentally capturing fragments of this intimate relationship. Big moments happen off camera, and we are left to witness (and decipher) the fraught aftermath.

What we do see feels like something captured via fixed computer camera, "Paranormal Activity 4: Love Hurts."

Visa problems separate them. Anna takes a magazine job in Britain, Jacob opens a successful business in the States. They have on-again/off-again travails, and Jacob hires Jennifer Lawrence, which is not a recipe for fidelity.

You can sort of see what Doremus is going for here, a sort of authentic, gruesomely realistic portrait of love in limbo, love in tatters, à la "Blue Valentine," another movie I didn't really dig.

Sometimes, verite and improvisation feel like a substitute for the hard work of artistic design, and that's the way "Like Crazy" felt to me.

"The Gift of the Magi" wrinkle in act one made me think of "Once," a movie that took many of the same notes, worked a little harder on the arrangement, and came up with something truly memorable.

Like Crazy

Directed by Drake Doremus. With Anton Yelchin, Oliver Muirhead, Charlie Bewley, Alex Kingston, Finola Hughes, Jennifer Lawrence, Jamie Thomas King, Chris Messina, Felicity Jones, Ben York Jones. Distributed by Paramount Pictures.

Running time: 1 hours, 29 minutes.

Parent's guide: PG-13 (for sexual content and brief strong language).