I’m at a point in my life where I have absolutely no idea what to do next. I graduated from college two years ago and, even with all I think I’ve accomplished over that time, I sometimes feel like I’m walking in circles. Like I’m a turtle stuck in a mound of sand desperately trying to get back to the ocean.
That’s why Laggies appealed to me. It’s a type of film that’s been done many times in the past, but the cast of well placed actors helps anchor the film in a loose, humorous reality. Although it’s not a complete reveal, it’s a nice window into the millennial pause.
Director: Lynn Shelton
Release Date: November 7th, 2014
Laggies is the story of Megan (Keira Knightley), a 28 year old post-graduate who’s stuck in a self-inflicted rut as she chooses to work for her father spinning arrow signs rather than pursue a career utilizing her degree. After seeing her friends mature, get married, and have kids, Megan begins to question her position in life. After a series of shocking events (her father cheats on her mother, hey long boyfriend proposes), Megan panics and runs away. Becoming fast friends with 16 year old, Annika (Chloe Grace Moretz) and her father Craig (Sam Rockwell), Megan takes a week to re-evaluate her life.
Laggies is a quiet slice of life film amongst the big releases, and it uses that to its advantage. Both the best and worst thing about it is there are practically no consequences for any character involved. Although Laggies’ story eventually strikes a fine balance between inconsequential and world bearingly massive, it does take a bit to get there. I have no idea if the pace of the film intentionally halts Megan’s development as a character, but it’s definitely a nice touch. It’s just when the film revels so much in this lackadaisical pace, you realize how little anything in the film matters.
To follow up this feeling, the world is draped in a fine grey. The colors of Megan’s world are drab, and the rest of the setting is given a grey hue. But while that’s good for setting the stagnant tone of the film, it’s one of the many things that demonstrate how little things change. Sure not every film needs to be a grand evolution of character, but it’s certainly missed when Laggies emphasizes that lack of change. But in a weird way, it all makes sense. Megan is caught in the millennial pause. That weird phase in the current generation’s life where all the options available lead to a directionless treading of water. You’re given complete freedom to choose your path in life, and given a bevy of routes to get there, but are overwhelmed at the possibilities those choices represent. The unfortunate thing about this reflection is, it leads to completely polarizing characters.
It’s entirely possible to dislike every character in Laggies despite their well rounded performances. When dissected at a surface level, you get upper class white folks who are generally complaining they’ve become complacent in their successes. The overall question of Megan’s future doesn’t really make any sense when you see how well off she is. She’s got a Master’s degree and a boyfriend who loves her, but she’s just being pushed around by other people’s desires. Her friends want her to settle because they’re all maturing in adulthood, and her parents want her to move on because they’re in a broken marriage. It’s kind of like Megan’s just living her life at a slower pace, and the fact that others want to break it up to conform to their sense of stability (which only seems to produce unhappiness) is definitely a turn off. You end of siding with Megan, the one who’s supposed to be going through this revelatory change, when she decides to just escape from all of that.
Now all of this makes sense with the ending. I can’t talk about it with too much detail, but I can say I appreciate it’s bleak and blunt attitude toward the world. While the tone chickens out toward the end (and there is a bit of happiness to be found), the majority of the film is delightful as you watch broken and unlikeable people scatter about and find each other. That probably sounds like a condemnation for Laggies, but no way. It’s got a great cast that works well with one another (with Sam Rockwell stealing the show), it’s concise but slow at first, and it’s quite thought provoking.
Laggies is a poignant film with a message that doesn’t quite hit home until long after the film’s over. It’s the kind of movie where you’ll watch and much later exclaim, “Oh, so that’s what it was about!”