Regular Dude Movie Review: ‘Laggies’

Above: Keira Knightley shines in Lynn Shelton's 'Laggies'
Above: Keira Knightley shines in Lynn Shelton's 'Laggies'

Dramatic period drama heroines have become synonymous with Keira Knightley, but she really shines in offbeat indie roles. Laggies is a perfect demonstration of that.

Knightley easily embodies the role of Megan, an American twenty-something non-starter, “lagging” behind her high school friends who progressively tick off milestones in their personal and professional lives. Interestingly, Anne Hathaway was supposed to take on the role, but Knightley does such a fine job transforming herself into the character (which includes donning a convincing American accent) that it’s hard to imagine anyone else playing the character. The minimalist look of her appearance in this film allows the struggles of the character and the nuances in Knightley’s portrayal to take center stage. Without any distracting period costume or sets, Knightley still presents a strong and compelling lead.

Supporting characters in the film do an equally equitable job. Sam Rockwell and Chloë Grace Moretz, who play father and daughter duo Craig and Annika, bring a pitch-perfect energy and charm to their roles. Knightley and Rockwell’s romantic chemistry is palpable, and there is an effortlessness in their scenes that is very convincing. Although their characters fall in love very quickly, it is believable because the required synergy is there right off the bat. Knightley and Moretz also have an easy chemistry that is very versatile: Knightley effectively navigates between the simultaneous maternal/parental and BFF roles she plays with respect to Moretz’s sixteen year old Annika. At various times a child, slacker, sexy younger woman, and maternal figure, Megan is an extremely multi-faceted character. Despite the youthfulness of her features, Knightley was able to pull off playing all these roles at once while maintaining one overarching characterization.

Megan walks a tight-rope between tradition and unconventionality (at least according to her friends), and this dichotomy is reflected through her relationships. The film starts with Knightley as the oddball among her high school friends, in a decade-long relationship with her high school sweetheart, whom she is hesitant to marry. She flees the threat of stifling traditionalism that is about to be foisted on her through marriage to her boyfriend, and ends up in an unconventional living arrangement for a week with Craig and Annika. Yet Megan, Craig, and Annika quickly start to resemble a family, and in this ironic way we are reminded that traditional milestones can be reached in non-traditional ways.

Another key message is the importance of living life on your own terms. Megan is stifled by the norms set by her family and what she thinks she should be doing. Her passivity creates a whole host of problems that are not resolved until Megan decides to pursue what she really desires. This perspective motivates the audience to remember that going after what you really want and doing what feels right, no matter how odd your actions seem to others, might just result in the standard things that make life worth living: friendship, love, and family.

Of course, the film isn’t meant to be didactic, but the inspiring messages about letting go of your past and pursing what really matters resonate. Coupled with solid performances and a humorous plot, Laggies is an easy feel-good film to watch on a date, alone, or with friends and family.

Laggies debuts in Toronto on Friday October 24th, in Montreal and Vancouver on Friday October 31st, and across Canada on Friday November 7th.

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