Old 04-15-2009, 05:43 PM
Cameron Crowe's Say Anything...

Say Anything... (1989)

This was Cameron Crowe's first film as director and it certainly shows his talent behind the camera which would also be seen in his later films like "Jerry Maguire" (a multiple Oscar nominee) and "Almost Famous" (another multiple Oscar nominee). Not only is he a good director, but his writing skills are top notch, earning him an Oscar for his original screenplay for "Almost Famous." It is the writing in particular that makes "Say Anything..." a worthy start to a great career.

Lloyd Dobler (John Cusack) and Diane Court (Ione Skye) have just graduate high school. Lloyd has a crush on Diane and decides to ask her to a graduation party. After some initial hesitation, she accepts his offer. Thus begins a relationship between two people who it seems were meant for each other. Meanwhile, Diane's dad, James Court (John Mahoney), is under investigation by the IRS for possibly stealing funds from the elderly residents of the nursing home that he runs.

I don't usually enjoy relationship films like this, but Crowe's screenplay is structured in such a way that makes this film more entertaining than most in the genre. The film is about more than just the normal boy-girl relationship. It is also about the relationship between a father and daughter whose lives have hit a rough patch just when things seemed to be going exactly right.

It also manages to avoid something that has been a flaw in many recent films. Crowe manages to keep the relationship an important part of the story throughout the whole father-daughter plot, whereas many other films like to use relationships just as filler or as a contrived plot point, leading them to have nothing to do with what is actually going on in the story.

The relationship between Lloyd and Diane is well-developed. These two go together perfectly because they are both people who feel that they have lost their connection with the outside world. Lloyd has no real career in mind except for kickboxing, while Diane has been taking some courses at a university, eventually winning an important scholarship which would involve her going to school in England.

Meanwhile, the relationship between Diane and her father is played up just enough so as not to overshadow her relationship with Lloyd. Her father shows that he has a very possessive relationship with his daughter. His marriage fell apart some years ago and when it came time for Diane to choose which parent she wanted to live with, she chose him. Ever since, they have had a special kind of relationship where they tell each other everything. She has always enjoyed telling him everything, even saying that it doesn't feel real unless she tells him, which she says after a special night with Lloyd.

So it's no surprise that when the IRS begins investigating him, she is right there by his side to proclaim his innocence. This situation begins to affect her relationship with Lloyd as she doesn't think she can handle everything at once, leading her to dump Lloyd by giving him a pen and telling him to write her. Of course, this is followed by the obligatory scenes of Lloyd pining for her while feeling really depressed. However, the relationship between Diane and Lloyd is the predictable part of the story.

The part of the story that is not so predictable in the relationship between Diane and her father. The ending places their relationship in jeopardy as they both feel like they have been betrayed. We are unclear as to whether forgiveness has been obtained by either of them, but we do see the same pen from before reappear as it's given to another character. This leaves the audience wondering about the state of things in the end. For this film, the pen has become mightier than the sword, and a lot more hurtful too.

With both stories being given equal weight, plus the interesting way in which they interlock, we come to care about the characters and how their relationship with each other will end up. The decisions that some of these characters make seem right at the time, but they just didn't look at how their decisions would affect the future. Fortunately, it was never too late to make the right decisions, even though it may end up destroying a special relationship. 3/4 stars.
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Old 04-16-2009, 07:36 AM
Great review, loved how you touched upon the symbolism of the "pen." One of Cameron Crowe's most piognant films. John Cusack and Iona Syke shine in their respected roles. One of the best teen dramas of the 1980s, right alongside The Breakfast Club.
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