SAY ANYTHING (1989) is Cameron Crowe’s first film, starring John Cusack as a young man who courts a young woman.
12/01/09 | Film

Say Anything

by Brandon Hobson

He repeatedly dreams they drive their car off a cliff and fall headfirst, he and his young son, into the ocean. And yet each time, each dream, they somehow manage to survive unharmed. They never drown. In each dream the details are as specific and vivid as the one before. And the dream always begins the same: he is driving on a deserted highway at an increasingly fast speed with his son sitting beside him. His son is blindfolded but not in a mean way; it’s more like there’s a surprise waiting, maybe a birthday present or something. Numerous times the father has told his therapist that he can anticipate the crash. He’s unsure whether it’s a suicidal fantasy or a hidden desire to frighten his son or to put him in danger.

For weeks he has obsessed over this because he finds the whole experience strangely thrilling. His son’s expression, as he sits blindfolded, is always the same—the son sits staring straight ahead with his mouth slightly open, his head cocked to one side. The father has often described his son to his therapist as “a boy who is sad nearly all the time.” The father never feels angry or frustrated with his son in the dream. Even in his awakened, real life, he has never wanted to intentionally hurt his son in any way. Everything in the dream that leads to the crash feels like it must have a purpose, some hidden meaning that will provide answers to past unresolved conflicts, unanswered questions, motives, thoughts, temptations. The drive itself is tiresome and silent—there is no freeway noise, no music, no sounds. During this silence, always, the son finally speaks, and in every dream he says anything.

Sure enough, as soon as his son says anything, like clockwork, they fly off the edge of the cliff and tumble forward, falling in mid-air, falling down, down, until the car crashes hard into the water. The sudden impact feels like something explodes inside the car. There is the initial panic as the water gushes in and they struggle to break free from the car. At first he panics, struggling to free himself from his seat belt, but then somehow there is no struggle and breathing isn’t an issue at all, as if he is looking at the underwater world through a giant glass aquarium. Each time, each dream, he doesn’t even think of it. His son is instantly thrust forward in front of him, his body floating underwater. The father looks up and sees his son is bleeding, blood spilling slowly around like lingering smoke. Underwater, he watches. He now sees his son clearly, and doesn’t say anything.