Last month one of my favorite directors passed away suddenly – Lynn Shelton. I was deeply saddened when I found out and felt like the world of film and television really lost out by losing Lynn. Ever since seeing the movie Laggies I have been a fan, bingeing on all her films, and watching many series that she had a directorial hand in. I was even starting to be able to recognize when an episode was touched by Lynn. She had an intimate way of telling a story, of focusing close on characters in a way that seemed natural, unscripted, and personal. I was really looking forward to what was coming next from her.
For the month of June, I will be featuring one of her films for Monday Movies, starting with the first one that I ever saw. A movie that is one of my all-time favorites. Laggies stars Keira Knightley, a long-time favorite of mine. It was Keira that led me to the film. She is brilliant in it, playing the lost and drifting Megan who unlike her closest friends, and longtime boyfriend, doesn’t know what she wants to do with her life. Megan has a bit of a breakdown and takes a “lost weekend”, staying in the house of a teenager she meets in front of a Grocery Outlet. An unlikely friendship is formed between Megan and teenage Annika (Chloë Grace Moretz), one that helps both of them fill a hole in their lives. An unexpected romance happens between Megan and Annika’s father (Sam Rockwell). But, the biggest story arc here is not in these relationships – though they are both real and important – it is in Megan’s coming-of-age journey that leads her into standing up for what she wants while acknowledging that it’s okay to not know what you want to do with the rest of your life.
Written by Andrea Seigel
Directed by Lynn Shelton
Keira is brilliant in this. But she isn’t the only woman in this that shines. Chloë Grace plays Annika’s complexity perfectly. She is both wise beyond her years and immature, overly emotional at times, and internally held back at others. She is dealing with the rejection of a mother who left her, and her dad, while trying to navigate the tricky and touch map to being a teenage girl. Her best friend Misty is played by Kaitlyn Dever, who leaps off the screen every time she’s on it. Kaitlyn is one of my favorite young actors in Hollywood and Laggies (along with Short Term 12, another favorite movie of mine) was my introduction to her. You can catch glimpses of what’s to come with this actor who has gone on to amazing performances in films like Booksmart, and the series’ “Unbelievable”.
Sam Rockwell is great in this. He always is, to me. He’s been one of my favorites for a long time. His role isn’t a big one in this, as Laggies is really about women and their relationships with others, and themselves, but when he is so enjoyable. The kiss between Craig (Sam Rockwell) and Megan (Keira Knightley) is one of my Top 10 screen kisses of all time. It’s all in the way he grabs hold of his coat that she’s wearing that just does it for me – every single time.
See what I mean?
Laggies is one of those movies that falls into a “hard to define” category. It fits somewhere in-between a coming-of-age story, a romantic comedy, and an indie-film dramedy. Mostly it is a story about relationships – romantic, platonic, parental – and about how we find ourselves, and how we fit in all those “relationship” places in our lives. I love this movie. There is something about Megan’s journey that has resonated with me since the first time I watched it. I may not be in my “quarter-life” years, but I still feel for all the questions and struggles that Megan finds herself tangled in, and I still totally get that sense of being lost, and of floating, in the way that Megan is experiencing throughout Laggies.
I am also forever grateful to Laggies for introducing me to the works of Lynn Shelton. She will very much be missed by me, and many, many other people, I’m sure.