Sunday, November 09, 2014

Keira Knightley Floats Through The Lackluster LAGGIES

Now playing at an indie art house near me:

LAGGIES (Dir. Lynn Shelton, 2014)

Maybe 2014 is the year of the bad title (see: EDGE OF TOMORROW). Titled SAY WHEN (which isn’t much better) in the UK, Lynn Shelton’s sixth film concerns Keira Knightley as a woman in her late ‘20s lagging behind in her life with little direction or motivation. 

Although she has an advanced degree in counseling, Knightley spends her days in a slacker job as one of those street corner sign spinners - a gig her insurance salesman father (Jeff Garlin) gave her – and her nights with her doting long-term boyfriend (Marc Webber).

When Webber starts to propose at the wedding reception of one of their friends (Ellie Kemper) Knightley freaks out and flees the party, and on the way out she catches her dad cheating on her mother.

Shortly afterward she stops at a grocery store and a group of teenagers headed by Chloƫ Grace Moretz ask her to buy them beer. Considering it a rite of passage, Knightley obliges then finds herself hanging out with the kids in a park until late that night.

Deciding that she needs a break from things in order to get her shit together, Knightley asks if she can stay at Moretz’s for a week while she tells Webber, her friends and family that she’s going to a week-long career seminar.

Knightley is found out almost immediately - before she even spends one night hiding in her new teenage friend’s bedroom - by Moretz’s divorce lawyer father played by a jaded Sam Rockwell who jokes: “Hey, did you hear the one about the grown woman who started hanging out with pubescent kids?”

LAGGIES isn’t bad, it’s just blah. It has cute moments, and some well observed humor but there’s not much to it. Knightley does a good job, especially with her convincing American accent, as do Moretz and Rockwell but this material – written by first-time screenwriter Andrea Siegel just goes through the predictable motions.

There have been so many movies, especially in the world of independent film, about young people having trouble transitioning into adulthood – Jason Reitman’s YOUNG ADULT comes to mind – so the beats are all too familiar. Anyone watching this film will know that Knightley is going to break up with her boyfriend back home and end up with Rockwell, and the realizations that our protagonist has that get her to that point are so obvious and spelled out.

Like Moretz’s subplot about whether or not she should tell a boy she likes him at the prom, there’s nothing really interesting going on here. There’s very little conflict, and it’s light on moments of insight or drama (though Kemper puts in some of her best acting in a coffee shop confrontation scene with Knightley), as Siegel’s script just skirts the surface of these situations set mostly in Seattle suburbs. It simply doesn’t breathe any new life into the ‘wake up and take control of your life’ trope.

LAGGIES, which I would've called FLOATING because it's something Knightley's character says about herself more than once the movie, joins the sad club of lackluster indies that have quickly come and gone this year including the abysmal MEN, WOMEN, AND CHILDREN, the depressing LISTEN UP PHILIP, and the fake film noir of THE TWO FACES OF JANUARY. Just like those forgettable films, LAGGIES doesn’t just fail to connect with audiences, it fails to connect period.

More later...

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