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Improbable friends hit the road in delightful Italian film 'Like Crazy'

Improbable friends hit the road in delightful Italian film 'Like Crazy'
Micaela Ramazzotti, left, and Valeria Bruni Tedeschi in the film "Like Crazy." (Paolo Ciriello / Strand Releasing)

Cross "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" with "Thelma and Louise," set it "Under the Tuscan Sun," and you'd have something akin to "Like Crazy," a vibrant and compelling look at friendship, freedom and the fine line between sanity and madness.

Beatrice (Valeria Bruni Tedeschi) is a grandly delusional, if amusingly resourceful, motormouth ensconced at a progressive mental institution. One day, while out on work detail, Beatrice makes an impromptu escape along with asylum newbie Donatella (Micaela Ramazzotti), a waifish, tattooed depressive.

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These mismatched messes become unlikely pals — and partners in petty crime — as they ricochet from one misadventure to another, largely engineered by the brash Beatrice, whose storied history involving crooked ex-lovers and high-level connections will prove truer than false. As for Donatella, the mystery of her troubled past credibly unfolds in ways that are poignant and profound.

Director Paolo Virzì, who co-wrote with Francesca Archibugi, keeps the jam-packed film moving apace with a whirlwind of high-wire emotionality, memorable set pieces and vivid location work.

Tedeschi, who also starred in Virzì's 2013 "Human Capital," turns in a positively electric performance, running the gamut of Beatrice's bipolar behavior with in-your-face intensity and whacked-out charisma. Although her part is less showy, Ramazzotti infuses the broken, desperate Donatella with a wellspring of pathos and dimension.

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'Like Crazy'

Not rated

In Italian with English subtitles.

Running time: 1 hour, 56 minutes.

Playing: Laemmle Royal Theatre, West L.A.; Laemmle Playhouse 7, Pasadena

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