Writer-director Drake Doremus’s follow-up to Like Crazy won’t be to everyone’s taste. The film, about a near-romance between an 18-year-old girl and a married man, is up close and intimate, and you might find its improvised dialogue (and one too many shots of the couple exchanging deep and meaningful glances) excruciatingly pretentious. But after watching it twice, I’m sold—just about.
Swinging it to compelling are irresistible performances from Felicity Jones and Guy Pearce. Jones is Sophie, a British exchange student living with a family in upstate New York. Pearce (unusually soft and breakable) plays Keith, the dad. He’s an indie guitarist who’s working nine-to-five as a teacher and seriously frustrated that life has gotten in the way of his dreams of stardom. Sophie thinks she knows his marriage in the way that teens think they know everything.
In the straight-to-cable version, he’d be a sleazy alpha-creep and she’d turn the tables. It’s more complicated here. Saying that, Jones is 30. She looks not a day over 20 (it’s like she’s had Botox injections of crushed unicorn horns). But if an actual teenager were playing Sophie, it’s hard to say how sympathetic we’d feel.