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.
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.
In Italian with English subtitles.
Running time: 1 hour, 56 minutes.
Playing: Laemmle Royal Theatre, West L.A.; Laemmle Playhouse 7, Pasadena