Lonergan's Margaret Finally Makes It to Big Screen
Shot in 2005 — lead actress Anna Paquin, now 29, credibly plays a 17-year-old — Margaret was delayed first by the editing room angst of writer-director Kenneth Lonergan, and then a court battle between its producers over Lonergan's alleged inability to produce a "releasable" cut. Paquin plays Lisa, whose role in a fatal Upper West Side bus accident leads her to act out sexually, antagonize her self-absorbed single mom and obsessively pursue retribution on behalf of the accident victim. But is this the stuff of trauma psychosis, or is it adolescence? Lonergan's remarkable mess of a movie — dryly funny, uniquely novelistic — spins on that ambiguity, dismantling the impulses and pretensions of the precocious Lisa with painful accuracy while making blatant allusions, both verbal and visual, to the omnipresent paranoia of just-post-9/11 New York. (I'd wager that 30 of Margaret's 150 minutes are devoted to portentous shots of skyline, airspace and glass-and-steel exteriors.)
Taking its title from the object of Gerard Manley Hopkins "Spring and Fall," a poem musing on a child's heightened emotional state and obliviousness to the ephemerality of feelings, Margaret hits those themes a bit too hard, particularly in its second half, which is dominated by Lisa's mommy issues. It's less successful as a human drama than as a near-Brechtian exercise in what human drama looks and sounds like — a distanced but often car-crash–compelling portrait of a teen as an unfinished being. —Karina Longworth (Landmark)
10850 W. Pico Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90064
Get the Film Club Newsletter
Stay up to date on the best new movies with our critics' latest reviews, interviews and trailers for the films coming to a theater near you each week.
More Film News
- I Never Liked the National Lampoon's Vacation Series, and This New Version Is...
- Five Reasons to Enter the Silly, Sad World of Netflix's BoJack Horseman
- You Will Learn Exactly Three New Things From the Chris Farley Documentary
- Jason Segel Had His Book Club Read Infinite Jest Without Telling Them He Was...