Even though this drama is based on a 115-year-old novel, it feels powerfully timely today in the way it recounts events surrounding a particularly grim divorce. As we see the story through the eyes of a young girl caught between her self-involved parents, we are emotionally drawn right to the heart of the matter. Of course, it takes skilled filmmakers and a far-above-average cast to make this work.
Maisie (Aprile) is the 6-year-old daughter of fading rocker Susanna (Moore) and art dealer Beale (Coogan), whose marriage isn't dissolving quietly. As fiery arguments echo around their New York apartment, Maisie can't quite understand their anger but feels her hope fading. Sure enough, they separate, and when she goes to visit Daddy she's unnerved to discover her nanny Margo (Vanderham) is now living with him. Then Mommy marries nice-guy barman Lincoln (Skarsgard), who becomes Maisie's most reliable friend as her parents use her as a weapon in their bitter custody battle.
Directors McGeehee and Siegel (Bee Season) cleverly maintain Maisie's point of view all the way through the film, so we only see and hear things as she would. Much of what happens is never explained to her, but we get it and we understand that she probably does too. This includes the shocking irresponsibility displayed by both Susanna and Beale, who continually dump Maisie on each other as a kind of assault. And because they're preoccupied with their work, it's up to Margo and Lincoln to pick up the slack.
Continue reading: What Maisie Knew Review
'True Blood' star Alexander Skarsgard and young Onata Aprile talk about their new film 'What Maisie Knew' at a New York press junkett. They discuss their bonding activities, fatherhood and the general message of the movie.
Maisie is a 6-year-old girl whose parents are the veteran rock star Susanna and the art dealer Beale. As high profile as they are, Maisie is hardly living the high life as her selfish and ignorant folks never seem to have time to think about being parents and when their rocky relationship ends in a fiery divorce, she is used merely as a weapon in court as the bitter custody battle gets underway. Being passed from mother to father and vice versa hardly has the effect of making each parent want to spend more time with her to make up for their time apart as Susanna is often busy on tour and Beale takes many long work trips away. As a result, their respective new spouses Lincoln and Margo (also her ex-Nanny) are forced to take on the responsibility of caring for Maisie together and the young girl finds herself becoming happier by the day.
This is a heart-warming movie challenges the idea of child custody and is viewed through the eyes of an innocent girl who tries to construct a new family after her own is bitterly torn apart. Based on the novel of the same name by Henry James, this adaptation of 'What Maisie Knew' has been directed by Scott McGehee and David Siegel ('Suture', 'Uncertainty', 'Bee Season') and written by Carroll Cartwright ('Dungeons & Dragons', 'Where the Money Is') and Nancy Doyne in her feature film debut.