Say Anything (1989) 4/5 (7)


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Rating: The Good – 80.5
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Duration: 102 mins
Director: Cameron Crowe
Stars: John Cusack, Ione Skye, John Mahoney

Cameron Crowe’s finest hour came with this obscure take on the romantic teen drama where John Cusack tries to woo Ione Skye despite their seemingly disparate personalities. Sound familiar? Well don’t worry because everything that happens here is so delightfully unpredictable that this is one of the most absorbing rom-coms you’ll ever see. For a starters the characters of Lloyd Dobbler and Diane Court are rich, enigmatic, strong, and passionate but with entirely different backgrounds and ambitions. This immediately captures the attention because neither profile matches what we typically see in rom-com leads but the tried and tested romantic tension which we do typically find is present. The characters are also very real and, inhabited as they are by both Cusack and Skye, they foster a curious chemistry which becomes a keystone to the movie’s success. The dialogue is quirky to say the least but unusually perceptive and, as such, it rings in the ear with intelligence. There’s an authentic charm to Crowe’s phrasing which the actors seem to relish and that too comes across at every point in the film.

Cusack was never better at that early stage in his career and his eccentric kickboxing Dobbler is all the more endearing for it. Skye is wonderfully strong as the overachieving valedictorian and the relationship she shares with John Mahoney as her father is as compelling as that between her and Cusack. Mahoney is utterly tremendous as the dedicated father whose over-protection manifests itself in unusual ways. There is a diverse and substantial supporting cast on show too which are all given the opportunity to flex their acting muscles with Lili Taylor in irresistible form as the jilted girlfriend with a penchant for singing songs about her egomaniac ex.

All this is wrapped up in a wonderfully idiosyncratic package by Crowe who after writing such minor gems like Fast Times at Ridgemont High, stepped behind the camera for the first time to shoot this one himself. Moreover, in giving the film such strong personality and a unique identity, he showed some really impressive composure and confidence. Not surprisingly for one of his films, music plays a big part in setting the tone at crucial points (with the scene represented in the film’s poster being the best example) but in the final analysis this film is all about Crowe’s writing. Say Anything is a breath of fresh air not only for its genre (which has been plowed unimaginatively for years) but for cinema in general. If only there were more movies like it.

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One thought on “Say Anything (1989)”

  1. Really good write up. Just saw it for the first time and it is pretty much as described. A wonderful gem of a movie with great performances all round.

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