Doremus, already a Sundance veteran at 27, uses a 50-page outline and a handful of young Hollywood's A-list, notably Anton Yelchin and Felicity Jones to create an exacting collage and voyeuristic approach to young/first/long-distance love.
LA-bred furniture design student Jacob (Yelchin) and Brit exchange writer girl Anna (Jones, who absolutely brings it) get together after the verbose yet unsure Anna leaves a five-page note on the windshield of Jacob's Saturn.
A date ensues. But it's not for drinks or dinner; it's not an overconfident couple who exchanged flirts and barbs and witticisms online, it's just walking around.
Doremus gives us a peek at the upstart pair from the first pensive touch to the almost-thwarted invite up to Anna's messy-girl bedroom.
They take a sip of her whiskey and almost kiss, instead opting for a quick listen to Paul Simon's Graceland, two feet apart on her bed. The date ends with a lingering stare-down on opposite sides of her glass apartment entryway door. It as is as hopeful and heartbreaking a moment as this year's fest offers.
Doremus, who showed a knack for pushing story through subtle hint in his first two features Spooner and Douchebag, delivers a half-dozen such moments during the film's 89 minutes - this time keeping a stranglehold on the narrative.
The couple's on-off love story careens through the years once Anna returns home to the UK and the pair embark on careers/lives on separate continents.
From flip phones to iPhones, ignored texts, rediscovery of memento and nights spent with others - notably, LA girlfriend/assistant Sam, Winter's Bone's Jennifer Lawrence, and Charlie Bewley's cagey Brit Cityboy Simon, Anna's aggressive neighbor - Doremus brings the estranged couple back from a flatline repeatedly. Their love, though it began as a trifle, is hard-earned.
Also on the support side, Anna's parents are played with lived-in humor by Alex Kingston and Oliver Murihead, who, like the audience, champion the couple's efforts at arm's length even as gimlet eyes turned star-crossed.
Juxtapose Like Crazy with last year's hackneyed LDR-themed Going the Distance, featuring Drew Barrymore/Justin Long, and it becomes clear Doremus has created a very literal new cinematic dialogue and an eventual DVD companion piece to Annie Hall, Say Anything and Lost in Translation.