, 14 Mar 2007
Boy (Cusack) meets Girl (Skye). Boy and Girl fall in love. Girl gets scholarship to England. Girl's Father (Mahoney) makes her feel guilty about spending time with Boy. Boy loses Girl. Boy plays Peter Gabriel's In Your Eyes outside Girls window. Can he get her back?
'...She gave me a pen. I gave her my heart and she gave me a pen'. Almost all you need to know about this most atypical of teen movies is in that line, the emotion, the offbeat humour and the brilliant, brilliant dialogue come together perfectly in that moment to make it the most memorable line in a film packed with them. It's no surprise that the chief asset of Say Anything is its dialogue as it is the directorial debut of Cameron Crowe. Crowe became a journalist for Rolling Stone at just 15, in his early 20s he returned to high school and wrote the book Fast Times At Ridgemont High before having his first experience with film by writing a screenplay based on that book. 7 years later he produced this, set in the same world but with a totally different tone and style Say Anything is a sign that Cameron Crowe grew up in those 7 years.
Crowe's greatest strength as a writer has always been in creating complex, individual characters and here he does some of his best work in that respect. Lloyd Dobler (Cusack) is a million miles from the stereotypical guy of teen movies (as his friend Corey (Taylor) says to him: Be a man, don't be a guy'). He is intelligent, thoughtful, funny and seems to have it all worked out. One does wonder where Lloyd might have ended up though since kickboxing proved not to be the sport of the future as he hopes. What defines Lloyd though is his feelings for Diane (Skye) as evidenced by what he says to her father at the end of the film '...Cause I figured out what I really want to do with my life, what I want to do for a living is I want to be with your daughter. I'm good at it.' I've heard many girls name Lloyd as an ideal boyfriend and that is a huge achievement on Crowe's part. John Cusack has, to some degree, played Lloyd ever since, there is a lot of the cynical side of the character in his portrayal of Rob Gordon in High Fidelity. He should not complain though, this is an iconic part and he does it full justice with a subtle performance that is still the best of his career almost 14 years on.
Ione Skye matches Cusack at every turn with a charming performance as Crowe's 'golden girl' Diane Court ' A brain. Trapped in the body of a game-show hostess' according to Lloyd's friends. Its difficult to talk about either Cusack or Skye giving performances because they are so convincing that rather than thinking what great performances they are giving you simply watch the characters. It is easy to see why Lloyd and Diane are attracted to one another, even leaving aside Skye's classical beauty.
I can't possibly talk about this film and not mention music. One piece in particular, perhaps the best use of music in cinema history. The moment (Illustrated on all the posters for the film) when Lloyd stands outside Diane's window, holding a stereo above his head. Peter Gabriel's beautiful song In Your Eyes playing at full volume. That scene tells you everything about how the characters are feeling without spending pages and pages of dialogue to do it.
There isn't a bad performance in the film. Eric Stoltz pops up in a cameo as Valhere (a role he reprised in Jerry Maguire) and puts in an entertaining, if very broad, comic performance. Lilli Taylor excels as the girl who has written more than 50 songs about her ex boyfriend and John Mahoney proves he is as good at drama as his is at comedy (he plays Martin on Frasier). Joan Cusack, John's sister, in a stroke of (now endlessly repeated) casting genius plays Lloyd's sister.
It is obvious that this film was made by a debuting director, not that there is anything wrong with how it is shot, just that all the camera does most of the time is capture the action, rather than draw it. In a film like this though Crowe doesn't need flashy camera work and special effects he just needs to get his wonderful script up on screen and does so perfectly well.
This is a brilliant film, ludicrously classified 15 and perfectly suitable for younger people. A perfect first date film (and if your date doesnt like it
dont bother with a second).
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