Likeable life crisis dramedy from Lynn Shelton starring Keira Knightley
Writer-director Lynn Shelton has made her name with lo-fi relationship dramas – Humpday, Your Sister’s Sister and Touchy Feely among others. Say When is no different, albeit with a higher-profile cast than Shelton is used to. It’s also the first time she’s worked from someone else's script (newcomer Andrea Seigel), but this quarter-life crisis comedy is still right in her wheelhouse.
Keira Knightley plays aimless late-20s lass Megan, who spins out after her boyfriend Anthony (Mark Webber) proposes. Unsure of what to do, she claims she’s going on a retreat for a week to buy herself some time. Instead, she winds up lying low with Annika (Chloë Grace Moretz), a teenager she befriends after buying booze for her on a whim.
Part friend, part surrogate matriarch, the arrival of Megan proves just as necessary for Annika, who lives with her genial father Craig (Sam Rockwell) but lacks a motherly influence. For his part, Craig seems intrigued by Megan’s presence, though he has no idea of what she and his daughter get up to, not least paying a long-overdue visit to Annika’s emotionally distant mother Bethany (Gretchen Mol).
Dealing with growing pains, both in teens and adults, the film is strong on exploring issues of conformity, for example how many get married simply because it's what other people do. It’s hardly explosive or revelatory, and hinges on more contrivances than it should, but there’s a rambling, ambling charm to the film, as if Shelton is channelling early John Hughes.
There's neat support from Jeff Garlin and Ellie Kemper and the central trio are all appealing enough, particularly Knightley, who seems more at home in US cinema that she does in her British work. The only major negative is the bland title change: it was originally called ‘Laggies’ in the US, which seems a fitting description of these stunted characters.
General release from Fri 7 Nov.