I Gave Her My Heart, She Gave Me A Pen: Say Anything...(1989)

It has come to my attention somewhat recently that I have yet to see a single Cameron Crowe film, despite his having a rather notable place in cinema, more so as a writer than a director.  I am also terribly ashamed to have never seen Say Anything up until this point, although I have been guilty of referencing the scene, as well as sing "In Your Eyes" while holding my cats above my head...yeah I know.  Regardless, I look forward to seeing this film both because of its importance in being film literate, as well as my growing affection for John Cusack as an actor, I am fully aware he is by no means a fantastic performer, but when he does appear in works he always delivers a solid performance, of course, however, he is almost always playing John Cusack.  I thoroughly enjoyed the film, let me say that first, I was quite baffled though by the unusual connections in logic which Crowe uses throughout his narrative.  Sure it is a film about a guy from the wrong side of the tracks falling for the well-to-do and brainiac girl, despite everybody in their life suggesting that it cannot occur, yet in between the IRS invasion and the magical appearances of kickboxing dojo's it is hard to imagine where Crowe got off basically creating a world where anything he though appropriate could happen on a whim, especially if it helped to advance the love between a couple.  I am still amazed that even after realizing that I was aware of the writing jumps Crowe was taking that I managed to find the film not on the nose whatsoever and quite earnest in its approach.  Perhaps it has something to do with the sentimentality of young love, or Cusack's whispers and constant look of defeat, but I could not help but feel for the couple in the film, particularly when it seems as though all is doomed between the two, wholly because of the negative actions of other individuals.  Say Anything, in no light fashion, manages to be both an excellent romantic film, as well as a astute and perhaps ignored statement on class divisions in a post-Reagan trickled down economic nightmare of middle class America.

Say Anything begins in the near traditional manner of all high school romance films, on the eve of graduation, in which two characters have their whole life ahead of them.  There is Lloyd (John Cusack) the vacant young man who for unexplained reasons lives with his older sister and seems content to drift along until the sport of kickboxing becomes popular at which point he will have trained enough to win matches.  There there is Diane (Ione Skye) a profusely smart young woman who is proving quite adept even after the divorce of her parents, going so far as to obtain a prestigious scholarship to study abroad in Europe.  Despite being fully aware that she is way out of his league, Lloyd undertakes the quest of winning over Diane, something he does in the most genuine of manners, beginning with a phone call asking her out on a date.  It is at a party that they both attend that Diane realizes that Lloyd is not purely interested in sexual conquest and appears to possess a genuine desire to woo her and be with her.  Diane, while initially reluctant finds herself becoming enamored with Lloyd despite the misgivings of her dad, particularly when it becomes apparent that he is to be under severe surveillance by the IRS and FBI as a result of what may or may not be shady dealings within his recently deceased patients at the nursing home he manages.  Diane realizing that she needs to look out for her dad suggests that she and Lloyd distance themselves from one another and that she study more to prepare for her trip.  Lloyd is adamant in his refusal to agree to those terms, sending her letters, calling her incessantly and even standing outside her window playing the song from their most intimate moments together.  This all seems to be to no avail until Diane realizes that her father is indeed guilty for his actions, causing her to run back to Lloyd's arms to get forgiveness.  Lloyd attempts to act indifferently only to break apart with joy.  The two then spend every waking moment together, Lloyd even serving as an in between between Diane and her father who is now incarcerated.  The closing scenes find Diane and Lloyd together on a plane as they prepare to begin their future in Europe.

I mentioned that this film could be read to some degree as a class conscious reflection on the movement away from trickle-down economic theories of Reagan era America.  While I have not seen any other films by Crowe, and only have one memory from Jerry McGuire, which of course involves money, I cannot help but ignore the role it plays within Say Anything, all be it a bit forced by the end of the film. Throughout the narrative it is clear that Diane's dad has absolutely no reason not to like Lloyd aside form his lack of wealth and economic future, aside from those problems he is a standup guy who cares solely for Diane's well being.  Furthermore, it is not her dad's concern for her safety that eventually pulls her away from Lloyd, but his hopes of maintaining a certain level of capitalist comfort that demands that his daughter take his side as he continues to rob from the dead and on a metaphorical level rob what little things of value Lloyd has in the name of his safety.  Furthermore, when we contrast Lloyd's desires to that of Diane's father, we realize that he has little or no concern for monetary gain and, in fact, is quite befuddled by his ability to both teach kickboxing, as well as get paid to do so.  It is clear that he finds no joy in money, if it prevents him from doing what he enjoys, something that is verified when he goes on a monologue about how he wants no job relating to production in any context, a very anti-capitalist diatribe if one ever existed.  Finally, we see Diane as a mediation between the two, so greatly desiring something different from her economic success oriented life, yet finding it quite intense and scary to move away from capitalist safety at the same time.  However, in the name of all that is good she does side with a love of life over a love of money, something that seems to be a major theme in the film, although the film never really explains then how the two are to survive in Europe, although it is a romantic film, liberties can be taken with little pause.

Key Scene:  There is a moment in which Diane's father berates her about falling for Lloyd in which it cuts between three different days.  While the editing and execution are not particularly innovative, they are surprising within the context of the film, as well as the genre of romance, making it quite nice to watch.

This is a must own film for any cinephile, particularly those who love eighties films or romantic works, it is not a terribly cinematic film though, so a DVD copy should suffice.

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