- Director:Kenneth Lonergan
- Cast:Jeannie Berlin, Matt Damon, Anna Paquin, Jean Reno, Mark Ruffalo
- Release Date:June 14, 2012
- Distributor:20th Century Fox
- Running time:144 minutes
- Film Worth:$18.00
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A sprawling, ambitious and challenging work, but one that’s rich and rewarding in character and theme.
Writer-director Kenneth Lonergan's Margaret is one of the most difficult and challenging films of the year, and not simply due to its troubled post-production: shot in 2005, the film experienced multiple edits and lawsuits. Now comes a compromised version edited by Lonergan champions, Martin Scorsese and Thelma Schoonmaker, and it is a triumph: a bold, challenging and funny exploration of miscommunication in a post-9/11 America.
Lonergan describes the film as a "teen epic", and it's an apt way to express the daring, challenging and wonderfully messy final product. A never-better Anna Paquin is Lisa, a self-absorbed and prickly teenager who specialises in giving her parents (real-life couple Lonergan and J. Smith Cameron), teachers (including Matt Damon) and friends a hard time. When she unwittingly causes a car accident, Lisa struggles to emotionally register the consequences of her actions, pushing away her loved ones as a result.
Lonergan has beautifully essayed all of his characters, so that each part - no matter how small - seems developed and lived-in. Lonergan suggests multiple emotional layers to each of the characters, so that no one is either vilified or coddled. One character tells Lisa, "We are not supporting characters in the fascinating story of your life", and the multi-faceted screenplay supports this argument. The actors respond in kind. Paquin shows Lisa as a series of intense emotional impulses, struggling to be heard by someone; anyone. Kieran Culkin and Matthew Broderick elicit more laughs than the entire cast of The Dictator, Jeannie Berlin, Allison Janney, Mark Ruffalo and Cameron provide fiery support, and Jean Reno gives possibly his best English-language performance as a suitor to Lisa's mother. Everyone is strong, though, and this extends to the smallest supporting roles like Stephen Adly Guirgis as a detective, and John Gallagher as Lisa's would-be boyfriend. Ambitious, moving and beautifully-written, Margaret is a true original.