The Messiness of Lives: Laggies, selected by Hedwig van Driel

  • Datum 30-01-2015
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Director Lynn Shelton likes throwing spanners in her character’s lives. Here they think they’re coasting along nicely, carried along by inertia, until something happens that they can’t just wave off. For Megan (Keira Knightley) in Laggies, a 28-year old who’s so far kept adulthood at a safe distance, there are two inciting incidents: at a friend’s wedding, her boyfriend drops on one knee (or attempts to, anyway) and when she runs outside, she witnesses something that upsets the way she sees the world.

That night, she also encounters Annika (Chloe Grace Moretz), a teenager who convinces her to buy booze for her and her group of friends. When Annika asks Megan for a favour the day after (a favour which, not entirely coincidentally, involves pretending to be an adult), Megan on a whim decides to ask something in return: a place to stay for a week to figure things out. Sneaking this past Annika’s dad (Sam Rockwell) proves trickier than expected.

When you think about it, Megan is being selfish, deceitful, and rash. It’s a good thing, then, that the movie has Keira Knightley’s extensive likeability as an asset. Whether it’s convincing a tortoise to eat, contemplating her boyfriend’s proposal, or dancing during her work as a sign girl, it’s simply impossible to see her as malevolent.

While the movie is undeniably Megan’s, Chloe Grace Moretz does some interesting work here as well: she’s always been the Teflon-teen, preternaturally confident and charming (it’s why she was so well cast as Hit-Girl, and so miscast as Carrie), but in this part, she also lets the vulnerability shine through, and all of the sudden the confidence feels less innate and more like armour. As for Sam Rockwell, by this point in his career, it should be no surprise that he nonchalantly makes every scene he’s in feel vibrantly alive.

It helps too that while the movie hits some familiar beats, and this is Shelton’s most polished and commercial project to date, the script isn’t too worried about dotting all the i’s. The careful viewer will know exactly what career Megan should go for at the end of the movie, but she still doesn’t. By the end, she’s made an affirmative choice for once, and that is framed as a triumph, but it’s clear that that choice is a beginning, not an end. The movie doesn’t shy away from the messiness of lives, and is all the more memorable for it.

Hedwig van Driel (foto: André Bakker)Hedwig van Driel is a pop culture omnivore who wishes there were more hours in the day. When not kept too busy by her day job, she works as an editor for the Schokkend Nieuws, a Dutch magazine dedicated to all films bizarre and unusual; she is one of the main vloggers at VoordeFilm, with movie introductions focused on Hollywood movies of the 40s and 50s; and she also contributes articles to feminist website Lover, comic magazine Zone 5200, and several other outlets. Gender is a particular interest: she wrote a special about psychotic women in horror movies for Schokkend Nieuws, and is co-authoring the upcoming "Kick Ass Girls and Wonder Women" feature. She also keeps a weekly column about pop culture on her own blog, and can frequently be found procrastinating on twitter.

Lost in Adolescence

Representation is important. I remember the first time I saw Lost in Translation, particularly the scene on the bed where Scarlett Johansson’s Charlotte tells Bill Murray’s Bob about her aborted artistic pursuits, her photography phase "taking picture of your feet." It was one of the first times I remember seeing something on the screen that rang so true to my experience. I was used to identifying with all sorts of people on screen — gangsters, gristly PI’s, artsy Parisian types, femme fatales, lost men in their twenties. I was used to placing myself in another person’s shoes. It was rare to witness someone who seemed to have walked in mine. Luckily, women in their twenties have been having a creative renaissance lately, with Lena Dunham, Mindy Kaling, Greta Gerwig, Jenny Slate, Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson, Sheila Heti, Issa Rae and so many more showing that women have a whole range of emotions and thoughts and insecurities that until now only sporadically appeared on screen. Even if you don’t recognize yourself in Megan from Laggies, characters like hers contribute to a cinema wherein more people are represented, and that can only be a positive sign.

IFFR Critics’ Choice 2015: Hedwig van Driel (film: Laggies) on Vimeo.