Film, In Review: Laggies

Trudging through the advent of early adulthood can make life unbearable at times. Fresh out of University, a relationship on the precipice of marriage, and bargaining unemployment leaves Megan (Keira Knightley), in a quarter life crisis.

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Keira Knightley (Megan), Jeff Garlin (Ed), and Jodi Thelen (Linda) in “Laggies”.

At the aftermath of Allison’s (Ellie Kemper) bachelorette party, she discovers that her friends have transitioned seamlessly into adulthood with husbands and kids at their own whims. Megan is perturbed by this realization, her only other thread from the past, her high school beau Anthony (Mark Webber). Resolved to be the one remaining junctures in her clutches that has tugged and pulled through their decade old relationship, Anthony and Megan have reached a pinnacle in their relationship.

Chloe Grace Mortez (Annika) and Keira Knightley (Megan) in "Laggies"

Chloe Grace Mortez (Annika) and Keira Knightley (Megan) in “Laggies”

A night of aimless wandering leads Megan to stumble upon Annika (Chloe Grace Moretz) and her solace of friends Junior (Daniel Zovatto), Patrick (Dylan Arnold), and Misty (Kaitlyn Dever). Eager to begin their late night pillaging, they search for a worthy pawn to fetch them alcohol. Megan willingly agrees to satisfy their underage cravings; in exchange, they ask her to spend the evening with them. An hour turns into a few before Megan soon finds herself lying about her nightly whereabouts to her concerned boyfriend and friends. In a fleet of desperation, she lands at Annika’s door hoping to camp out on the floor of a her bedroom for the week. Grateful for Megan’s earlier favour, Annika agrees to smuggle Megan under the roof of her father.

Suspicious of his daughter’s meanderings, Craig (Sam Rockwell) bursts into Annika’s room to discover Megan applying makeup on his wide eyed and confused daughter. A good cop bad cop playbill later reveals Craig’s unbashful sympathy towards Megan’s unfortunate circumstance. He lets her stay with them for the week until she can get her life together. As the week drawls onward, the dysfunctional lives of her pseudo landlord and his daughter become more apparent to Megan – her own problems meagre in comparison – as Annika struggles to reconnect with her absent mother and manage the juvenile lust she shares for Junior, while Craig pleads for temperament and patience with his latest case – the divorce of Patrick’s  parents.

Sam Rockwell (Craig), Chloe Grace Mortez (Annika), and Keira Knightley (Megan) in "Laggies"

Sam Rockwell (Craig), Chloe Grace Mortez (Annika), and Keira Knightley (Megan) in “Laggies”

Directed by Lynn Shelton, written by Andrea Seigel, “Laggies” is chock full of quirks and quips that’ll make you chuckle until the underlying subtext surfaces. Seigel’s ability to create gripping duplicitous characters makes “Laggies” an entertaining feature but the continuity within the story sometimes lacks a consistent through line. Megan’s relationship with Craig for instance seems disjointed and wildly sporadic in contrast to her crooning disparity.

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Keira Knightley (Megan) in “Laggies”

Shelton, nonetheless, creates fantastic principle photography throughout Megan’s week of freedom.
Her ingenuity is illustrated when Megan takes Annika’s pet anorexic turtle for a walk in the yard as Craig watches on. The shot is envisioned through a composite mise-en-scène in which Megan and the turtle interact in the background while Craig sits in the foreground. The shot itself creates a visual aesthetic, where two self contained sequences are in play but are placed together in a given scene. Wide aerial shots encapsulate Seattle’s vast landscape with smooth pans and tentative close ups to enhance emotional visibility. The suburbs of Seattle offers a cinematic landscape beautifully envisioned and pleasantly captured.

Keira Knightley, Chloe Grace Mortez, Sam Rockwell, Mark Webber, Ellie Kemper, Jodi Thelen, and Jeff Garlin portray this delightful cast of characters. Knightley’s performance especially, is refreshing, notable, and a departure from her periodical repertoire. Supporting actor Sam Rockwell does well to balance the comedy and sorrow in various shades. Chloe Grace Mortez is equally entertaining as the young woman in need of guidance she can only attain through woeful self – pity.

Throughout the film, we marvel as Megan’s vacation turns into an utter nightmare, as consequences unfold and regrets become cemented memories. Granted, a break from life doesn’t mean you stop living – the choices we make in our youth are pertinent to the consequences we face in adulthood, whether or not we can justify our reasons for making them.

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