Thursday, September 06, 2012

Margaret 2011

Saw this film last week and I’m still thinking about it. Directed and written by Kenneth Lonergan whose first film was “You Can Count on Me,” which was a good small complex  film about relationships.  Margaret is also complex and is also about relationships but is more ambitious than YCCM, which can be seen as one of its flaws. The film  had many problems and several lawsuits on its long  journey to fruition   mostly having to do with the editing  process, and was finally taken over with Lonergan’s blessing by Martin Scorsese and Thelma Schoonmaker before getting a long delayed release and a running time of nearly 2 ½” hours. The movie tells  the story of a somewhat self centered spoiled upper west side private school 17 year old played convincingly by Anna Panquin, who was 23 when the film started shooting in 2005 and some might say she was pushing the age envelope, but Anna  pulls it off and delivers a very good performance. Her character’s name is Lisa, not Margaret and she is flirty, flighty and furious; usually with her mother who is an actress and is just about to open in an off Broadway play. Along with her younger brother they share a surprisingly small apartment on the Upper West Side of Manhattan where most of the film takes place.  One day while behaving foolishly she witnesses a horrible accident for which she is partly to blame  and her life drastically changes. Her dealings with practically everyone she comes into contact with are troublesome, and because of this the film is layered with tension and dread. The film sprawls and sometimes stalls across the city and is somewhat Operatic in tone and style with opera itself playing an important supporting role. The cast is very good and impressive including the great Allison Janney in a small crucial heartbreaking scene, J. Cameron Smith as her much put upon mother, Mark Ruffalo , Matt Damon, Jean Reno, Mathew Broderick, Rosemarie DeWitt and in what I consider the best supporting female performance of 2011 Jeannie Berlin. And just to clear something up because I kept waiting for this Margaret chick to show up, the Margaret of the title comes from a poem “Spring and Fall,” by Gerard Manley Hopkins, which was written to a young girl named Margaret and is recited in Lisa’s English class . One of the ten best films of 2011.


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