On the Silver Screen – Say When

Nov 11, 2014 | Posted by in Movies
Say When

Say When (or Laggies as it’s known in the US) is the story of a woman in her 20s who faces a quarter life crisis and escapes her life to reassess her priorities.

The most irritating thing about this film is that it had a lot of potential to be something. Being a directionless 20 something is something that’s all too common in modern society -says the directionless 20 something writing this review- and there should be plenty of story to mine there both for laughs and for serious drama.

Keira Knightley plays Megan, a graduate with no idea what she wants to do with her life so wastes away in a job twirling a sign to advertise her father’s business. She has a boyfriend who seems to be stifling her in some way and she feels constantly harangued by her friends who are doing grown up things like getting married, having babies and embarking on careers while seemingly having expectations of her.

Say WhenWhen it all feels a bit too much for her she starts hanging around with the teenage Annika (Chloë Grace Moretz) who sneaks her into her home so that she can lay low but they are almost instantly caught by her father Craig (Sam Rockwell). Megan spends the rest of the time sorting out what she wants from life and in theory learning something profound about herself.

It’s funny how a film with this subject matter could be so directionless. The story is so unevenly structured that long stretches of time pass with nothing of note happening. It would be fine if that time was used to reinforce the underlying point or poke some fun at the subject but instead it just drags on endlessly as my enthusiasm for it plummets.

Keira Knightley’s performance is fine for what it is but her American accent really isn’t very good. There were similar issues with her character in Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit too and I’m not sure the story would need changed all that much if she were allowed to use her native accent. It certainly would have been far less distracting.

Her character is almost entirely unlikeable. I couldn’t get on board with the fact that she lies to her friends, family and boyfriend about where she is and what she’s doing. It seemed like a profoundly selfish thing to do and it takes far too long for her to realise that she should just tell people the truth so that they know where they stand. There’s no adequate resolution to her internal conflict as the film doesn’t end with her having any real direction in life nor is there an acknowledgement of her really needing to find one.

There are so many subplots clogging up the running time that it felt like there must have been time to kill so writer Andrea Seigel padded the script out with needless diversions. There’s a plot involving Megan’s father’s infidelity that is resolved on screen, another subplot involving Annika’s relationship with her mother as well as a budding romance with some guy in her class. There’s no real weight to any of these plots and for the most part they go unresolved.

Craig is the best character in the film due to Sam Rockwell’s effortlessly charismatic performance but he’s not really in it enough to salvage the film. He tends to come and go from the plot without having any real significant impact other than Megan’s alternative love interest. I found myself less than enthusiastic about their budding relationship especially with it happening while Megan was still engaged to her previous boyfriend.

The jokes, such as they are are terrible. I don’t recall laughing much at anything that went on in the film. I could identify scenes that were clearly supposed to provoke laughter but not much really landed. Some of Sam Rockwell’s lines were genuinely funny but it seems that he was elevating bad material with his natural talents.

  • 1/10
    Say When - 1/10


Nothing really to recommend here. A sloppily constructed film with a misguided narrative and boring characters. Like the main character, the film has no idea what it wants to be and fills the narrative with pointless subplots that do nothing more than fill time.

Keira Knightley’s character Megan is not at all likeable and the unconvincing American accent is constantly distracting. I kept waiting for a resolution to her character arc but one never came. Ultimately the film felt as directionless as her character. Chloë Grace Moretz is similarly underwhelming playing a character with nothing remotely original going on.

Some laughs come from Sam Rockwell but it seems to be a matter of him elevating bad material with his natural wit and charisma. In general it’s just a really bad film.