Say Anything is many things and to discuss its themes too heavily here would certainly ruin its impact for a first time viewer, fortunately saying it’s one of the most convincing, gentle love stories ever committed to film I think is more than adequate to warrant a watch from even the most heartless potential viewer.
Lloyd (John Cusack) is the guy so many young men think they are, or desperately want to be. Academically uninteresting but life-smart, naively confident without an inflated ego, Lloyd knows what to say and how to say it. Eventually when backed by his closest friends (all, oddly enough, females) he makes the phone call to Diane (Ione Skye) to ask her out. Weaving round her father’s paternal instincts masterfully like Messi through Munich’s defence, Lloyd through the trickery of brutal honesty camouflages himself as worthy and thus sets in motion 1989’s most evocative romance.
Lloyd and Diane’s first outing together is to a local graduation party wherein the tone is set for the rest of the film. She’s clever, like, insanely. Unfortunately, she’s also wildly out of touch with everyone but her father (portrayed by a joke in a graduation ceremony speech that bombed harder Million ways to die in the West) because of her miniscule social life leaving her widely admired but narrowly loved resulting in disconnected conversations and graduation album messages from her peers. Lloyd on the other hand is almost the polar opposite, sharing everything with pals, male and female, and family members, resulting in a truly well-rounded character.
And as we all know, opposites attract. She has a heart of gold but has never really shared it, he has so much love to give but never really given it; they change one another entirely for the better. Consequently I think the film is truly supportive of young people believing in the power of being themselves, looking inwards to solve their problems and being courageous enough to reach for what they want. I also admire it for its funny and entertaining portrayal of being a 19 year old beginning a relationship, everything from meeting the parents to the excited shakes on the precipice of physical love.
Furthermore, I admit I’ve watched a hellishly large number of romantic (comedy) films for a 22 year old single guy too, good and bad, and from that I can really vouch for the screenwriting here as the single most engaging part of Say Anything. No line makes me cringe like several did in Boyhood’s generally strong representation of adolescence and the sense of urgency created by Diane having to leave for England in 16 weeks to study, of time running out, similar to how Before Sunrise made me feel rushed off my feet is masterful.
Nowadays, I appreciate a film just making me feel anything; Ebert said the movies are empathy factories and I wholeheartedly agree as I was constantly questioning myself as to what I would do in such a doomed-love situation and with iconic scenes like the holding of the radio (with that song *swoon*) seen here I was simply astounded. I’m a big fan of Crowe’s filmography like I’m sure a lot of people are (though I haven’t seen We bought a Zoo) so I’m really looking forward his new film Aloha too.
All in all, watch this film. Male, female, black, white, straight, gay, fighter jet, it really doesn’t matter your situation, I think this is a film about how being yourself can really, really, pay off; and that’s what life’s all about right, isn’t it?