Lloyd Dobler is that most rare of creature in modern Hollywood, a truly romantic soul. From the first time he lays eyes on Diane Court at the commencement ceremony the poor boy is fatally smitten.Seemingly out of the blue Lloyd fixates and is entirely devoted to winning the heart of Ione Sky, the quiet girl that nobody really sees but him. It feels like we are dealing with archetypes here, the beautiful loser, and the late bloomer coming together in the last summer of the halcyon high school years. Yet these characters feel real, it never occurred to me to guess what might happen next, it felt as if anything could.
Aside from the trials of love that borders on obsession, the other major plotline revolves around Lloyd going head to head with Diane’s father. John Mahoney is wonderful and subtle in the role of the father who has become so invested in his daughter’s success; that nothing else matters. He doesn’t dislike Lloyd so much as what it is that he represents; a distraction for Diane away from the future that he has been building for her. He is mistrustful of Lloyd’s ‘wait and see’ attitude about the future, and this moves him to try to drive a wedge between them.
John Cusack turns in a star making performance here as Lloyd making him at once wholly engaging and completely awkward in that way that is unique to recent high school graduates. He stammers, and talks, and talks, and makes an ass of himself. And then when it seems as if things could get no worse his guard comes down; and we see clearly into his soul. He isn’t really that cool or popular. Yet all of the people who really know him love him, and secretly long for his attentions.In the hands of a less competent director, this story could easily spiral into sappy lifetime drama bullshit. Thank god Cameron Crowe was forced to direct his own script, there is an intellectual honesty to his style that keeps the proceedings from becoming messy and prosaic. Also has one of the great movie endings of all time.