Say Anything, 1989, USA
No, I hadn’t seen this film before! It was one I wanted to watch during the 80s week I did back when I was watching and reviewing the 200 movies for school, but I was unable to get my hands on a copy of it. I recorded it off AMC the other day so I was happy to finally be able to watch it (and see the iconic boom box scene in context!).
Lloyd (John Cusack) is an average student with no real direction in life, other than his aspirations to be a kickboxer. Diane (Ione Skye) is the high school valedictorian who has won a scholarship to study in England. Lloyd calls her up on a whim and asks her out. Diane, who doesn’t really know Lloyd, accepts his offer because he makes her laugh. As they spend time together and get to know each other, they fall in love. However, Diane’s father (John Mahoney) dislikes the budding relationship because he sees it as a potential distraction for Diane.
I thought the film was lovely – it was very melancholy but it was also very sweet. Lloyd is such an endearing character. I found the contrast between Lloyd and Diane’s father to be very interesting, especially when her father’s legal troubles are revealed. Diane’s divorced father was the only person she could ever count on for much of her life, but her disappointment in him crushes her at a critically important time in her life. In essence, he becomes the distraction he fears so desperately. Her father obsessively planned out her entire life, whereas Lloyd struck me as a floater, content to go with the flow and do whatever feels right at any given time.
The film was surprisingly deep. I suppose I was expecting a lighter romantic comedy instead of the romantic drama it ended up being. But I was very impressed by the depth of the characters, especially Diane’s father. Usually parental figures in films like these are fairly cookie cutter, but his motivations and failings as a human being were stark and painfully honest. And in many respects, this film subverts the stereotypical gender roles within romance films. It can be seen in the film’s most famous scene, which is achingly bittersweet and reduced me to tears. The ending was brilliant. I loved the subtle implication of it.
Say Anything is an, at times, painfully accurate portrayal of young love, and the frantic emotions and confusion that comes along with it. The acting is fantastic and Cameron Crowe’s direction perfectly captured the emotional intensity of falling in love. It was a beautiful film.