I saw Say Anything for the first time when I was seventeen and I feel that more than any other film, it brings me back to my particular high school experience. Not that I see myself in any of the characters specifically (while I dated a Lloyd Dobler type, I’m certainly no Diane Court,at least I don’t I think so) but when watching it now, I experience the same feelings one goes through when finding a shoebox full of old photos and seeing the smiling faces of old friends you don’t talk to anymore. When I watch this film, I know I am not the same person I was when I first saw it ten years ago. While in many ways it’s for the better, it’s a reminder that we can never be seventeen again.
Lloyd Dobler (John Cusack) takes a chance on graduation day, and asks class valedictorian Diana Court (Ione Skye) to accompany him to a graduation party. Even his best friends think he’s lost his mind, because while he’s a good guy, they don’t see him as someone the smartest girl in their class would date, but she agrees and the two begin a summer romance. Diane’s dad (John Mahoney) is concerned that his daughter is spending too much time with a kid with no direction, when she has plans to study aboard in the fall. When things get serious, Diane gives in to her dad’s pressure and dumps Lloyd, who is completely heartbroken. He tries to win her back, with the help of Peter Gabriel, but it isn’t until her father is convicted of tax evasion that she can be with him again.
Of course the most famous scene is when Lloyd stands under Diane’s window holding a boom box, playing their song, “In Your Eyes” by Peter Gabriel. To me, it’s the epitome of young love. When you’re a kid, you dream of having someone love you so much they won’t let you go and then you grow up and the thought of that terrifies you. When you’re a kid, you dream up dramatic ways you’ll show that illusive crush how great you are and then they’ll love you, but then you grow up and realize you can’t MAKE someone love you. I talk as if the two don’t reunite in the end, but I think this is why this movie resonates with so many people. They probably shouldn’t get back together, but we all want to live in a world where your first love is your only love.
While Lloyd Dobler gets to be a pop culture icon, Diane Court is a pretty interesting character in her own right. She’s so uncomfortable in her own skin and is so unsure about her own feelings she makes it through high school without forming any relationships beyond acquaintances. It takes Lloyd making a pretty sizable leap of faith for her to have anyone in her life besides her father and the residents of the nursing home he runs. When she breaks up with Lloyd, it isn’t because he did anything or because they had a misunderstanding, she does it because she knows her father wants her to and she isn’t comfortable with all the new feelings she’s experiencing. And then she give him a pen! She’s probably one of the most awkward characters ever but doesn’t get seen that way because she’s pretty.
Say Anything is, in my opinion, one of the best teen movies, mostly because it perfectly captures the realities of first love as well as what we all want first love to be. However, as an adult, it conjures a sort of nostalgic melancholy because you know Lloyd grows up to be Rob Gordon from High Fidelity, not that that’s such a bad thing.