RogerBW's Blog

Laggies 10 April 2015

2014, dir. Lynn Shelton, Keira Knightley, Chloë Grace Moretz; IMDb / allmovie

Megan is approaching thirty, but her career and personality more or less went on hold when she left high school ten years ago. One night, as she's fleeing from an unwanted marriage proposal and other complications, some high-school kids ask her to buy them beer, and she gets on with Annika better than with her own peers. Things move on from there. vt Say When in the UK and Ireland.

Through a series of contrivances, Meg ends up crashing at Annika's place. And meeting her divorced father Craig. So that's the romance part of the romantic comedy taken care of; from the first meeting it's clear how that plot arc is going to work out.

But, as in any good romantic comedy, the love story is not the primary thing that's going on here. And it doesn't even get all that much screen time (which is fortunate, because Sam Rockwell as Craig transcends the banalities of the script in a way that might not have worked if he'd been given more to say). The main actual relationship here is between Annika and Megan: Megan becomes the speaker for Annika to the grown-up world, including her father, while Annika points up to Megan the differences in their mindsets and positions – and Megan starts to realise how she's changed from her high-school self without realising it. This is essentially a film about growing up, seen from various sides, and for a pleasant change it's not about a boy turning into a man.

Knightley does a fine job as Megan, who could easily have been a one-note character but manages to remain likeable. Moretz has an easier part but manages the whiplash mood changes of adolescence plausibly. And Rockwell shows off his rubber face, managing to take his moods in all sorts of directions: the smarmy lawyer act comes over as an act by a man who isn't really good at that face, and when he's hurt, he's hurt.

It's only in the final act, when the Megan-Craig relationship becomes the main focus of attention, that the film seems to flail a little, veering too easily into cliché. After it's been suggesting all along that there are no easy answers, it drops them into everyone's laps because the last reel is coming up and everything has to be resolved before the punters go home.

This is a pretty slight film, nobody's idea of Great Cinema, but it gets its job done well without being excessively generic or offensive.

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