Margaret Movie Review

Shot in 2005, Lonergan's film spent six years in legal and editorial limbo. It may be overlong, but it's a powerfully involving exploration of guilt and self-discovery. It's also packed with astonishingly complex characters and situations.

Lisa (Paquin) is a Manhattan teen living with her single mother Joan (Smith-Cameron), an actress starring in her breakout stage role while seeing a new man (Reno). One day Lisa distracts a bus driver (Ruffalo), who hits a woman (Janney) in the street, an accident that sends Lisa into a spiral of sublimated guilt, as she lashes out in different ways at a nice classmate (Gallagher), her teachers (Damon and Broderick) and mostly her mother. And she doesn't stop there, meddling in people's lives in her effort to achieve a sense of justice.

Lisa's real problem is that she hasn't yet developed an adult sense of isolation and interdependence. So this is actually an intricate coming-of-age movie, even though it doesn't feel like one. We watch in horrified recognition as we see ourselves in every character, even as each one goes through moments in which they are hugely unlikeable, reacting badly and/or doing things that are intensely selfish.

Clearly cut down from a much longer version, subplots come and go suddenly, leaving a lot to the imagination. But this askance structure works in the film's favour, as does the lengthly running time, which lets us get lost in each situation as well as the overarching themes. We never have a clue what anyone is going to say or do next, scenes turn suddenly in unexpected directions, and even Lonergan's flashy camera moves add to the dizzying effect.

Indeed, the title refers to a 19th century poem.

The entire cast is excellent. This is perhaps Paquin's strongest performance yet. She holds our attention - and affection - even after Lisa has lost our sympathy. Smith-Cameron is terrific as a woman desperate to understand her daughter, realising perhaps too late that both of them are being equally narrow-minded. And Berlin has the other notable role as a woman pulled into Lisa's plan before revealing her own limits. This is a rich, moving, deeply provocative film that doesn't deserve to be remembered for its production troubles. Let it speak for itself.


Comments

Margaret Rating

" Excellent "

Rating: 15, 2011

Advertisement

Editors Recommendations

Zach Braff Reignites The Shins Connection for 'Wish I Was Here'

By the time you finish reading this article you will be enlightened. You...

Zach Braff Reignites The Shins Connection for 'Wish I Was Here'

Bruce Springsteen Stars & Makes His Directional Debut In 'Hunter Of Invisible Game'

Bruce Springsteen has made his directional debut with a 10:15 minute short...

Bruce Springsteen Stars & Makes His Directional Debut In 'Hunter Of Invisible Game'

Will He Or Won't He? Garth Brooks Vows To Reach Out To Irish Prime Minister About Cancelled Gigs

It turns out when Garth Brooks said he would perform “all or none” of...

Will He Or Won't He? Garth Brooks Vows To Reach Out To Irish Prime Minister About Cancelled Gigs

HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2 ups the ante

Back in early 2010 when the first How to Train Your Dragon was released, cinemas were...

HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2 ups the ante

George Clooney Rejects Daily Mail Apology Over Claims Regarding Fiancee's Mother

George Clooney has been left reeling in fury in a spat with The Daily...

George Clooney Rejects Daily Mail Apology Over Claims Regarding Fiancee's Mother
Advertisement

Flashback Friday: Major Labels In Talks For Shares In SoundCloud In Exchange For Copyright Waivers

Berlin-based streaming service SoundCloud is about to reach a deal...

Flashback Friday: Major Labels In Talks For Shares In SoundCloud In Exchange For Copyright Waivers

Paul McCartney: Just One in a Long List of Celebs Who Love a Good Proposal

Paul McCartney made two fans’ dreams come true at a recent concert...

Paul McCartney: Just One in a Long List of Celebs Who Love a Good Proposal


More recommendations

Advertisement