If ever there was a film that provided the adage/cliche that less is more, this is it. Short, simple, sweet and sophisticated, it says as much about love and relationships as two hundred other films based on the boy meets girl template.
British student Anna (Felicity Jones) is studying in LA when she meets Jacob (Anton Yelchin). They fall hard and spend happy weeks together till it's time for her to go home. With the folly and blind optimism of youth, she decides to ignore the restrictions of her student visa, which means that when she wants to go back to America a few months after returning to the UK, the immigration authorities say no. Which leaves two hearts sundered and a frustrating transatlantic relationship which cannot blossom, but won't die.
Plot-wise, there's nothing especially original here, and in fact it is not dissimilar to One Day. And the comparison shows exactly why this film works and the other one didn't. One of the hardest things to manage in movies as in life are transitions, and this film is masterful at this process, whereby we move almost imperceptibly from one scene to another. This elegant dynamic works equally well within individual scenes. It looks effortless, which simply proves that it wasn't. Many hours must have been spent in the editing room.
First time director Drake Doremus, like his film, has come out of nowhere and his debut movie wowed audiences at Sundance last year, for reasons that will be obvious when you watch this film. But equal credit must go to Yelchin and Jones who give subtly modulated performances which win our hearts without beating us into emotional submission. They also improvised a good deal of the dialogue. Felicity Jones is one of those actresses who seems incapable of a false note. Irrespective of the film, she gleams and glows like precious metal. She's not especially beautiful, but she has a quality of authenticity that is priceless. She manages to look both young and grown up, and it is impossible not to be entranced by her face, on which the camera often lingers.
What I also like about the film is that it has such a mature perspective on love and relationships. Yes, there's the mad adrenaline rush of passion and desire, the sense that time has stopped and nothing else matters; but there's also the problems with communication, whether at a distance or close to; the pettiness of quarrels, the impossibility of explaining things. And what you do when you finally get what you want. Was it only unavailability that made the other person so irresistible? So much is comprehended in short scenes that slip through our fingers, with few words spoken, but a great deal expressed.
It's a terrific film, and I recommend it unreservedly.
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