SAY WHEN (LAGGIES)

Say When.

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National release: November 7th rating:15)run time: 99 mins

Director: Lynn Shelton Writer(s):Andrea Siegel Cast:Keira Knightley, Chloë Grace Moretz , Sam Rockwell, Ellie Kemper, Mark Webber

Say When (or the US title Laggies) is the mediocre title of this mediocre rom-com late bloomer coming-of-age story.  I will hasten to add that I was eager to see this film; I’m rooting for its lead, Keira Knightley, and her continued renaissance, after being forced upon audiences as the archetypal English Rose (but one no one, on this side of the pond anyway, seems to have really wanted). Like America’s answer to Knightley – Anne Hathaway, who coincidentally was supposed to lead in this film – we were constantly bombarded by the media on reasons to love her – instead there was a backlash, but it didn’t stop the industry from billing her as a darling. Then she took a little break, got married, focused on perfume ads and apparently began to quietly apply herself to the films she wanted to do.

Admittedly (like Hathaway, who has more than proven her versatility in the last few years), Knightly can act. It’s just been a little one note for the majority of her long career. The last couple of years have seen her  it back to basics, first in the aptly named film Begin Again –  the charming humble film in which she co-starred with Mark Ruffalo – and she was good. Equally reaffirming she stars in rumoured Oscar contender The Imitation Game opposite Benedict Cumberbatch, having impressed fans and critics during its opening gala at the London Film Festival. 

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In Say When (which really should have been called Laggies – it’s so much more fun) Megan (Knightley) suffers a sort of crisis point in her life when she realises, at 28, her life hasn’t improved since she graduated from high school; still in a relationship with her high-school sweetheart Anthony (Mark Webber); haplessly working as a sign flipper for her father’s firm and stifled by a group of friends (led by a feasibly highly strung Ellie Kemper) she steadily believes have outgrown her. When Anthony proposes she instinctively declines, running off into the night where she stumbles upon Anneka (Chloë Moretz) and her friends. She ends up hanging out with them, feeling more at ease with adolescents than with people her own age.

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Having accepted the proposal, she decides she needs to take a break from ‘life’  and  hides out at Anneka’s for a week. Thankfully (and perhaps to avoid serious questions in the real world) , Anneka’s father Craig (Sam Rockwell) pipes up about Megan’s presence: why are you hanging around my teenage daughter/why are you in my house? Soon the three of them are getting close; Megan has failed to mention her impending marriage. 

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 Keira pulls off an American accent (albeit generic) rather well, managing to successfully distance herself from all those upper-class roles we’ve associated her with. She’s goofy, genuinely nice to watch; film fan favourites Moretz and Rockwell; taking a welcomed secondary role that actually reminds viewers she is still only 17, Chloē Moretz is a gracious supporting actress, her sweet subplot is underwritten, juvenile at times but understandably in light of where Megan places high-school drama’s as she takes stock of her life, it’s makes sense – for most kids her age life is not a  90210 episode. Sam Rockwell is gravely underused – and that’s a shame because in this movie there are brief teases of his eccentricities and oddities that is so missed from the big screen (at least give the man his own HBO show) –  a little oddly matched as Megan’s looming love interest, the chemistry isn’t wholly believable and his role as a father is even less so.

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The film falls flat in three levels: Character development; weak subplots involving Megan’s family,friends, and Anneka; a tepid plot overall. Megan never really ‘grows up’ – which isn’t a criticism but it’s certainly a worry when the sole purpose for her running away from life ends up seeing her living it for someone else – where is Megan’s personal growth – why does it feel like she’s escaped one stifling life into another?

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It all basically boils down to her falling out of love with one guy and falling in love with another – everything else is a just a chugging vehicle for a mediocre rom-com where not much happens, at all. I must commend the predominantly female cast – it’s just a shame that they all seem to base their existence on the few male characters in the film. Which is annoying seeing as it’s not only written by a woman, but directed by one too. 

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