Review: Say When

Unexpected house guest ...

Unexpected house guest …


Title:                                     Say When

Certificate:                           15

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.



4 thoughts on “Review: Say When

  1. Freda, to me your aversion to Keira Knightley undermines your credibility as a reviewer. I thought she was brilliant in this, and I enjoy her performance in everything she’s in. If you make a special point of knocking her at every opportunity, the problem is certainly not Knightley’s but your own.

    1. Hi. Thanks for your comment. I guess we all have actors that we especially like and don’t like – it’s just personal taste. True, I didn’t care for her performance in Say When but I don’t feel I knock her at every opportunity. You might like to check out my review of The Imitation Game.



      1. Thanks for responding, Freda. I didn’t really mean to sound harsh, but I’ve noticed a plethora of bile expressed against this actress emanating particularly from your side of the pond. And I can see absolutely no reason for it — it seems like some kind of societal hysteria that somehow has focused on Knightley. So much so that even when there’s a relatively positive review of her performance (as is yours in the Imitation Game), the reviewer often feels compelled to damn it with faint praise, as you did, by inserting reservations. (i.e., “I normally think she’s crap, but here . . .”).

        Over here, a minority of critics disliked Laggies/Say When, but very few even of those thought ill of Knightley’s performance. In general, the reviews of Knightley were very positive with a large number of raves. True, there were three or four outliers, but there is simply nothing equal here to the level of antipathy toward her that often gets expressed in the UK. And yet we are all watching the same film . . . It’s peculiar.

      2. Hi. Don’t worry – I wasn’t offended. You’re right, though, about Knightley getting a lot of flack in the UK of late. There’s a weekly film programme on BBC TV in this country and even they commented on it during their review of Say When/Laggies – which they didn’t like either!:-) She’s had four films out this year in the UK, two of them close together, so maybe that accounts at least partly for it. Whatever, I think she’s probably one of those actors who divides opinion and there’s no half way house. It’s just curious that she’s more popular over there than in her home country! As, indeed is Say When/Laggies.

        There’s always the possibility, of course, that I’ll change my mind about her. For years, I couldn’t understand why there was so much fuss about Tom Hanks. He did nothing for me in the acting stakes – until I saw Captain Phillips! And, of late, I’ve been warming to Tom Hardy as well: I was lukewarm initially, but his performances in Locke and The Drop have changed all that.

        You never know!


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