During an unusually crowded opening day at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival, Lynn Shelton’s Laggies became the obtrusive hump in the middle of my day, challenging my sensibilities. Its heroine Megan (Keira Knightley) is approaching 30, drifting along in a relationship with Anthony (Mark Webber), her high school sweetheart, while still occasionally couch surfing at her parents’ home in order to avoid facing the real world head-on. Her high school friends are getting married, starting families and businesses, while Megan simply watches the wheels go round and round, but she doesn’t seem to love watching them roll.
She senses that there’s something more out there for her, but she has no idea what it is. So when she meets Annika (Chloë Grace Moretz), a high school kid who convinces Megan to buy booze for her friends outside a convenience store, we know Megan is about to discover what matters. But there was no way this story was going to lock in with my high-minded festival perceptions at the time. I couldn’t get with a grown woman hanging out with kids, wallowing in immaturity, especially when Annika’s dad (Sam Rockwell) discovers what’s going on and shrugs along with Megan’s choices. This wasn’t social commentary; it was societal suicide. Yet, without all of the awards season expectations that come with TIFF screenings, there’s a familiar appeal to Megan’s immaturity, although Shelton’s film, as a whole, feels like a holding pattern after niche breakouts Humpday and Your Sister’s Sister. This isn’t the right move, but Shelton proves that she’s still in the game. (R) Grade: B-