This was originally published at The Edge SUSU on November 12th.
Megan is a 28 year old slacker. With a good education and qualifications she still goes through life lacking a clear direction and, in her own words, just keeps “floating.” Seemingly comfortable with the idea of not really accepting any responsibility or making any meaningful life decisions, Megan is passive to any attempts to motivate her made by her family and friends, all of whom have been able to mature successfully and embrace their adulthood. When her high school boyfriend proposes to her, Megan panics and seeks somewhere to “lie low” until she can get her head straight and finds the perfect opportunity in Chloë Grace Moretz’s Annika, a 16 year old girl, desperately in need of a maternal figure. After bonding with Annika, Megan manages to hide out in her house in order to escape from the pressures of adult life.
So the premise is hardly revolutionary, its more or less coming of age by numbers, but there’s still features to like here. Pulling the film out of distinct mediocrity for instance, are the winning performances. Keira Knightly excels in turning what could possibly have been an irritating, selfish character with little to no sympathetic qualities into a more likable, rounded personality. Her turn as the rarely seen, female slacker is both believable and refreshing, whilst her vulnerability is nicely understated and affecting. Meanwhile, the ever dependable Moretz brings her usual mix of charm and wit to her own role and the chemistry between the two really does help to sustain a good portion of the film. But it’s Sam Rockwell, as Annika’s world weary, sarcastic father who truly holds the film together with his trademark easy going appeal.
Whilst the film may be absolutely harmless fluff, it doesn’t mean it isn’t worth your time. It is undeniably ridden with clichés and the script never really does enough to make itself stand out from the crowd, but at the same time there’s something vaguely endearing about its simplistic ambition. Never particularly aiming above providing some gentle laughs (most of which are supplied by Rockwell’s deadpan delivery) and putting a smile on your face, the film does succeed in the areas that it intends to and does so without ever feeling too contrived or forced.
RATING: 6/10- Despite doing very little to go above and beyond its genre, Say When gets by on an effective feel-good vibe and a great cast.
Say When (2014), directed by Lynn Shelton, is distributed in UK cinemas by Icon Film Distribution, Certificate 15.