Movies for the non-traditional romantic

If you’re feeling a little romantic, but can’t abide the sugar-coated love stories melting off the shelf at your local video store, I encourage you to pick up Like Crazy or J. Edgar.

My unofficial anniversary is coming up. I don’t know if other married couples consider the date they met as an “anniversary” but my husband and I like to take time on that date to reminisce about our lives together. So when it turned out that not one but two of the movies I watched in the last few weeks were love stories, I thought it was a bit of serendipity worthy of ink. This edition of Rave Reviews looks at Like Crazy and J. Edgar.

Like Crazy starts off as a typical college romance: a British exchange student (played by Felicity Jones) and an American classmate (played by Anton Yelchin) fall madly in love. Facing the prospect of a summer apart, they decide instead to spend it blissfully together. However, complications rear when the Brit finds that overstaying her student visa has consequences and she’s put back on the plane. The ensuing ups and downs of this love affair may seem, to some, implausible but for me, and I imagine for anyone who’s had to spend time away from the one they love, the longing that Jones and Yelchin portray shine through with conviction. Director Drake Doremus makes the most of the sparse script, teasing out very raw emotion from his star-crossed lovers in the long pauses between lines. And, unlike many movie romances, the happy ending is not a guarantee. This relationship is quite real (or as real as you can get in less than two hours), with passion, indifference, affection, and rough words. If you’re looking for a romance that doesn’t leave you feeling like you’ve overdosed on cotton candy, Like Crazy is sure to please.

Now, you might be thinking—how can an autobiography about J. Edgar Hoover, one of America’s most lauded crime fighters, be a love story? I was surprised myself as the film unfolded to find such tenderness behind the gruff, egotistical bully who ran the FBI for 50 years.

J. Edgar follows the course of Hoover’s life, from when the Bolshevik Revolution rocked the U.S., to his directorship of the FBI, to the Nixon administration. But it’s his relationship with Clyde Tolson, an associate director at the FBI and Hoover’s confidante that underscores just how delicate his impervious façade really was. Leonardo DiCaprio is stunning, slipping into Hoover’s skin with ease. However it was Armie Hammer as Tolson that truly delighted me. I’ve been a fan of Hammer’s since he played the Winklevoss twins in The Social Network. In J. Edgar, he delivers with a charm and vulnerability that’s as believable as it is disarming. Although the film drags a bit towards the end, it’s a fascinating biopic with enough meat to keep any history buff entertained.

If you’re feeling a little romantic, but can’t abide the sugar-coated love stories melting off the shelf at your local video store, I encourage you to pick up Like Crazy or J. Edgar. Though neither of these movies rocked the box office or brought in a shelf full of hardware, they both contain enough truth to keep you guessing right up until the credits roll.

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