Mental Patients Hit the Road in Paolo Virzì’s “Like Crazy”


Like its spiritual forbear One Flew Over the Cuckoo‘s Nest, Paolo Virzì’s Like Crazy uses a mental institution as pretext to investigate broader thematic concerns: femininity in a male-dominated world, class divisions, the potentially never-ending search for lasting happiness. Beatrice (Valeria Bruni Tedeschi) lives in a fantasy world in which she has hobnobbed with politicians and celebrities, while the spikier Donatella (Micaela Ramazzotti) exists in a perpetual state of depressive regret and despair. Both mental patients at an upscale psychiatric clinic, they strike up an odd-couple friendship that takes them, Thelma and Louise–style, on a road trip to find their own paths to personal joy.

Like its characters, Virzì’s film exists on a knife’s edge of instability, with its road-movie structure giving it a sometimes bracing unpredictability. And occasionally the pair’s adventures carry deeper resonance beyond in-the-moment exhilaration, with both Beatrice and Donatella remaining locked into patriarchal structures and ways of thinking that have driven them to near-madness. Mostly, though, Like Crazy seems content to coast on the contrast between Beatrice’s abrasive energy and Donatella’s quiet anguish, with neither character developed with depth sufficient to justify the time we spend with them. Nor do these wanderings lead anywhere interesting. Virzì’s film ultimately adds up to little more than the tale of two mentally unstable people finally coming to accept their insanity — an awfully thin arc on which to build an overextended road-trip movie.

Like Crazy

Directed by Paolo Virzì

Strand Releasing

Opens May 5, Lincoln Plaza Cinema and IFC Center