Title: Say When
Director: Lynn Shelton
Major Players: Keira Knightley, Sam Rockwell, Chloe Grace Moretz
Out Of Five: 2
50 is the new 30, right? Great for those of us who are 50+, but what if you’re actually under 30? Using the same logic, presumably that means sub-30 is the new 16? Lynn Shelton’s Say When (known in the States as Laggies) would have you believe it is – but only if you’re of a certain mind set. The one belonging to Megan (Keira Knightley).
She’s in her late 20s but still can’t make up her mind what to do with her life, even though she’s taken the drastic step of living with her boyfriend. When he proposes and she, unaccountably, accepts, she decides she needs to get away for a week to think about it. So she picks up on a casual acquaintance, the teenager Annika (Chloe Grace Moretz) and goes to stay with her – but, of course, she lives at home, so that means being in the same house as her lawyer dad (Sam Rockwell). As the end of the week draws to a close, she has to make up her mind once and for all.
So, essentially, this is a film about acting your age and there’s the nugget of a good idea buried somewhere inside it. If you’re older and act younger, chances are you’re regarded as cool and you’re getting the best of both worlds – fun combined with life experience and the confidence not to care too much what other people think of your behaviour. But if you’re in your late 20s and your social circle is 10 years younger, you don’t really belong with either age group and the people your younger friends associate with are more likely to see you as old and downright strange.
Shelton has picked the younger storyline and I can’t help but think she’s gone for the wrong one. A film about somebody older would have been much more fun and had much more to say about aging and attitudes towards it. In the meantime, however, that film is still waiting to be made, because what we have here is something that has precious little to tell us about growing up. And when it tries, it doesn’t do it very well – and the result is pure tedium.
With one exception. Thank God for Sam Rockwell! From the moment he bursts through his daughter’s bedroom door, he introduces some energy, humour and actual commitment into the film. True, he’s probably not the most convincing lawyer in the world – although, as he’s kinda fun, you wouldn’t say no to him defending you! – but he most certainly livens things up, to the extent that you can’t understand why he hasn’t had a girlfriend since his marriage broke up. This is a rather mainstream role for the usually offbeat Rockwell and he makes it look so easy that it rather smacks of taking the pay cheque and running – but we can only be grateful that he did.
My aversion to Keira Knightley was tempered by her performance in The Imitation Game last month, but it’s back with a vengeance. She’s as irritating as usual in this role and, even though she’s much the same age as her character in the movie, she looks significantly older. Go figure! And you have to feel sorry for Chloe Grace Moretz, stuck in the role of the teenager: she does all she can with the material she’s given, but it’s really nothing more than a quirky teen role. She’s capable of more and better.
Say When is strangely appropriate title – and presumably accidental. It’s what you say when you want somebody to stop pouring you a drink. As far as this film’s concerned, WHEN! WHEN! WHEN!
Say When is released around the UK on Friday, 7 November.