Keira Knightley frees herself of the trappings of costume drama to deliver a delightfully loose and engagingly funny performance in Say When (US title: Laggies), an offbeat comedy about a twentysomething woman in the throes of a quarter-life crisis.
Content to lag behind her more career-and-marriage conscious peers, Knightley’s 28-year-old slacker Megan is thrown into panic when her long-term boyfriend (Mark Webber) proposes. Fibbing that she is attending an out-of-town personal development seminar, she hides out instead in the home of her newly acquired friend, 16-year-old high-school student Annika (Chloë Grace Moretz), under the bemused gaze of Annika’s single dad Craig (Sam Rockwell).
Say When isn’t the first film to show today’s twentysomethings hooking up with teenagers because they can’t face up to the challenges of adult life. Last year’s The Lifeguard saw Kristen Bell’s 29-year-old ex-journalist Leigh treading water by resuming her teenage job as a swimming pool lifeguard. Leigh’s attempts to relive her youth took her dangerously out of her depth, but Megan’s fate in Say When is far more benign.
Director Lynn Shelton has shown herself an astute but compassionate observer of messed-up lives in such films as Your Sister’s Sister and she handles Megan’s emotional confusion with indulgent empathy. That could have proved a viewer turn-off were Shelton not also adept at getting credible performances out of contrived set ups. And her stars here are all appealingly lively and natural. Moretz is believably sassy and needy; Rockwell oozes wry humour; and Knightley brings real spark to a character whose life has stalled.
Certificate 15. Runtime 99 mins. Director Lynn Shelton.
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