Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.
Alternate title: Say When
USA, 2014. Anonymous Content, BR Capital Group, Merced Media Partners, PalmStar Media, PenLife Media, Siren Digital – Hollywood,Solution Entertainment Group. Screenplay by Andrea Seigel. Cinematography by Benjamin Kasulke. Produced by Steve Golin, Alix Madigan, Myles Nestel, Raj Brinder Singh, Rosalie Swedlin. Music by Benjamin Gibbard. Production Design by John Lavin. Costume Design by Ronald Leamon. Film Editing by Nat Sanders. Actors Index: Keira Knightley, Sam Rockwell. Toronto International Film Festival 2014.
Keira Knightley is still part of the friend group that she had ten years earlier when she graduated from high school, and is living with the boy she has been dating since then. She has nothing in common with her girlfriends, has an education but pursues no career, spends her days watching television on her parents’ couch and has the occasional job holding a promotional sign for her dad’s personal accountant business. We know from the wedding she attends that she is surrounded by people who take their fantasy selves far too seriously, with choreographed first-dance routines at the reception and an inability to be sarcastic, while at home her boyfriend still talks like a moony teenager in a movie. Her willingness to feel awkward and ignore the dissonance she has with the people in her life hits the wall when he proposes marriage and elopement, and rather than think about it, she says yes and then quickly runs away. A chance encounter with a sweet teenager (Chloë Grace Moretz, pulling off vulnerable for the first time in her career) gives her a great opportunity to spend time away from her life, so Knightley sleeps over at her new friend’s house despite the fact that the girl’s father (Sam Rockwell) is totally weirded out that a grown woman is hanging out with a bunch of kids. A superb, sharp performance from Knightley actually manages to convince you that she is as big a loser as you are told she is despite her glamorous appearance, though there is an uncomfortable blending of flavours that allows this film to be enjoyable but not quite weighty enough. Her problems are real, but her friends are the mean girls out of Muriel’s Wedding and it’s hard to decide if they’re actually caricatures or not; you can feel director Lynn Shelton unable to decide between the moments of humanity she gives them and the outright judgment that the script passes on their silly and shallow lives. Knightley’s character is so self-aware about her being lost that the journey of growth never really happens, nor, for that matter, do we understand why someone this smart is friends with people this shallow to begin with. Her moments with Moretz are wonderful, however, and the film hits a memorable stride in a painful sequence with Gretchen Mol as a complicated figure from the young woman’s past. It would be easier to admire a movie about a woman’s acceptance of maturity if Frances Ha hadn’t already done so much better a job of it, but if you have any penchant to see this, your effort will not be wasted; it’s not as incisive as Your Sister’s Sister but it has lots of moments of well executed levity.