TIFF 2014: Laggies Review
Uncertainty about the future and finding ourselves is a common experience for everyone in their twenties. We are reluctant to let go of our carefree youth in order to embrace responsibility and adulthood. Director Lynn Shelton attempts to tap into this reality with her latest film Laggies. After a disastrous marriage proposal, a young twentysomething woman meets a carefree teenager and decides to stay with her for a week to sort out her life. The film invokes that feeling that we all have at some point of wanting to step away from our life for awhile and take time to sort things out.
Megan (Keira Knightley) is woman who is content with her life of little responsibility. She has a job that requires little thought and her boyfriend Anthony (Mark Webber) loves her. However, after a high school reunion with old friends goes poorly and Anthony surprises her with a marriage proposal at a wedding, Megan panics as she realizes she’s not ready to make such a commitment and is unsure of where she is headed in life. After racing out of the wedding and going straight to the corner store to get alcohol, Megan meets Annika (Chloë Grace Moretz) a high school student who asks her to buy alcohol for her. Megan feels an immediate kinship with Annika and agrees to do it, thus starting an unusual friendship. When Megan realizes she needs to lay low for a week to sort things out, she crashes at Annika’s house. Over the course of a week, Megan begins to deal with her feelings about her boyfriend, her strained relationship with her parents, and where her life is headed.
This is by no means an original film. This subject matter, presented in this formula, has been done many times before, often more successfully. It’s the kind of film that you know where the story is going to end up and the arc the characters are going to travel early on. The main characters in the film are easily relatable, as this is such a common experience for many people growing up, which still makes it an enjoyable film if you need that affirmation about your own life or that you know what to expect going into it. Keira Knightley gives an adequate performance as the lead but the supporting cast are the ones who standout on screen. Sam Rockwell as Annika’s father is as charming and likeable as he always is, as is Moretz and her group of friends. In particular, rising star Kaitlyn Deaver as sarcastic and witty pal Misty was exceptional in her brief time on screen.
The director had apprehensions about hiring Knightley for the role, given that she has not played an American accent very often and this character is very clearly American. She worked hard to sustain the accent, and it was adequate, but it is easy to tell that she struggles with it at times, thus it becomes a distraction throughout the film.
This is a perfectly fine film with a relevant and relatable message, with charming performances, but it’s not outstanding or notable in any particular way. It provides the emotional satisfaction and story resolution that the viewer is looking for but ultimately comes across as an average coming-of-age film that will likely come and go with little fanfare.