A movie that is riding a wave of hype from the film festival circuit should certainly be something to get excited about and especially when the lead actors are all relative youngsters that appear to be on the fast track to stardom. Brought to the screen by up and coming director Drake Doremus, this picture focuses on the relationship of two students as they fall in love and try to overcome obstacles that are thrown their way and also ones they bring upon themselves. The question that we try to answer here ends up not being if they will succeed, but what that success ultimately means to each of their lives.
Jacob and Anna are college students who find each other near the end of a school year and immediately fall head over heels in love. What complicates the relationship is the fact that Anna must return to her home in Great Britain before her student visa expires. Faced with not seeing each other for almost three months, the young lovers decide to throw any sense of responsibility out the window and spend the summer in each other's arms rather than so far away.
This decision eventually costs the couple so much of their time together as Anna is banned from returning to the states for violating the terms of her student visa. Attempts are made to get this resolved and, in the meantime, their relationship has some serious ups and downs. Jacob and Anna know in their hearts they are destined to be together, but the decisions they have made and continue to make keep pushing them farther and farther apart.
I have to say that Anton Yelchin (Jacob) gives us a performance that should be at least recognized if not fully appreciated as one of the standouts of the year. Felicity Jones (Anna) also does a fantastic job with her role as both actors bring an amazing amount of grounded reality to their characters.
The subtleties of both performances are uplifting at times, heart wrenching during others, and during the movie's finest moments, they are flat out magical. Jennifer Lawrence also plays a part here that really deserves more of a role in the story both for her as an actress and for the character she plays.
Aside from the wonderful acting on display, the story here leaves a lot to be desired. The running time is listed at 94 minutes, but there were several times where the the story came to a screeching halt and I felt as if this movie may be dragging on endlessly. The main word that comes to mind when thinking about both the story and the characters is frustrating. Frustrating for decisions that both Anna and Jacob make and frustrating for where the story takes them.
Near the end of the first act, I was expecting the story to play out one of two ways. It could either have been a very emotionally positive experience, or it could have been more of the tragic love story that is doomed to fail. The way the story ultimately unfolds, you will have to decide for yourself whether you get either of these payoffs, but for my money, the journey wasn't really worth the eventual destination. Luckily I got to see a couple performances that were at times brilliantly played and for me that will have to be enough.