Margaret (2011)



Critic Consensus: A surfeit of ideas contributes to Margaret's excessive run time, but Anna Paquin does a admirable job of guiding viewers through emotional hell.

Movie Info

Margaret centers on a 17-year-old New York City high-school student who feels certain that she inadvertently played a role in a traffic accident that has claimed a woman's life. In her attempts to set things right she meets with opposition at every step. Torn apart with frustration, she begins emotionally brutalizing her family, her friends, her teachers, and most of all, herself. She has been confronted quite unexpectedly with a basic truth: that her youthful ideals are on a collision course … More

Rating: R (for strong language, sexuality, some drug use and disturbing images)
Genre: Drama
Directed By:
Written By: Kenneth Lonergan
In Theaters:
On DVD: Jul 10, 2012
Box Office: $46.5k
Fox Searchlight - Official Site


as Lisa Cohen

as Mr. Aaron

as Maretti

as Ramon

as Monica Patterson

as Mrs. Maretti
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Critic Reviews for Margaret

All Critics (91) | Top Critics (31)

Even in its truncated state, this is pretty gripping stuff.

Full Review… | September 26, 2014
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

This movie may be a lot of things, but finished isn't one of them.

Full Review… | May 3, 2015
Philadelphia Weekly

Knotty, ambitious and trading in messy human truths, it's the work of a master dramatist. Here's hoping Lonergan's next one reaches us a little faster.

Full Review… | September 29, 2014
Empire Magazine

A messy-yet-poignant dramatic opera about the power of regret, loss, and worst of all, being a teenager.

Full Review… | September 29, 2014
Film School Rejects

If two and a half hours in the company of quarrelsome, self-absorbed New Yorkers don't sound too punishing, there's much to like.

Full Review… | September 29, 2014
Total Film

It has failings, but they're not fundamental, and if anything they speak to just how much Lonergan tried to coerce into a single story. He was aiming for ecstatic transcendence.

Full Review… | September 29, 2014

Audience Reviews for Margaret

This is a movie I wanted to see for ages. I even tried to track a dvd copy down, but I could never find it at a reasonable price.
My thoughts after finally getting to see it on TV? Thank goodness I never actually purchased it!
Don't get me wrong, acting is good. Story is interesting, but it's sooo long, and Anna's character is a brat I couldn't stand.
When she starts rallying to get the bus driver sacked over the accident she caused, I knew I just couldn't with her character. She's always yelling too, just wanted to slap the little madam. Lol.
So, yes, ambitious and well made little movie, but definitely not one to rewatch.(For me, anyhow).

Nicki Marie

Super Reviewer

Margaret is an excellent film. The director has tackled a gritty and challenging subject with an exquisite eye to detail. The performances by Anna Paquin and J. Smith-Cameron are superb. There are some flaws such as minor story lines that seem to have no purpose or simply vanish, but those flaws are not enough to detract from the impact of the drama. For those who are not willing to wallow in the drama and who don't relish fine performances, Margaret will undoubtedly seem slow and uninteresting. However, for those who are willing and do so relish (I watched the extended edition at more than 3 hrs.), this is an excellent film despite its minor flaws.

Christian C

Super Reviewer


Featuring a star studded cast, this is writer/director Kenneth Lonergan's epic, operatic look at a high schooler's loss of innocence.

I should note that I watched the extended cut, which runs about 186 minutes.

17 year-old Lisa is a privileged upper class Jewish girl who, while out shopping, inadvertently causes a traffic accident that leads to a gruesome death. Feeling guilty, she tries to set things right, but in the process, experiences a very grueling and emotional journey. The film also charts her rocky relationship with her mother, as well as career as a student, which involves heavy classroom debates, and questionable relations with a teacher.

I used the term operatic, and that wasn't an accident. In fact, opera is a recurring motif throughout. And this is a very full film, stuffed to the gills with characters, storylines, and a sweeping scope.

And, that's kinda the problem here. I saw the extended cut, which is just about 30 minutes longer than the theatrical release. Not having seen the shorter version, I can't say if this longer cut is better or not. Quick research tells me that this longer cuts does tie some loose ends, and fleshes some stuff out, but man, is it a chore to sit through.

This film had a troubled production, and took several years to get released. I don't know the details, but apparently it had something to do with this film's very high level of ambition and weighty subject matter. I can respect this film for having a strong vision, but can also safely say that this just wasn't for me.

For one thing, this film, in broad terms, is a lot like Paranoid Park. Same general premise, but with a few tweaks. Only thing is, that film was half as long, and got the point across a lot better and easier. I'm okay with long films, and even some long slow films, but this particular long slow film was a real endurance test.

It's emotionally grueling, but also really repetitive, long, and slow. And, there's not much in the way of levity either. And like I said, Paranoid Park did it more compactly.

I did enjoy the cast here, though. And yes, they give some strong performances. Those two things, along with the cinematography are probably the best, if only reasons I didn't rate this one lower. Anna Paquin is great, and very believable. Mark Ruffalo is good, and shows his range. Matt Damon was at first a tad hard to swallow as a younger teacher, but he grew on me. Broderick likewise managed to pull a decent performance as well. Her part is brief, but I feel the need to give special praise to Allison Janney- the traffic accident scene is easily one of the most gripping, gut wrenching, and effective sequences of recent years, and definitely of one this film's highlights.

All in all, I think that some of this is pretty well made, but it's a bit too long, too slow, pretentious, and repetitive to endure...especially with such grim subject matter.

Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

Margaret Quotes

– Submitted by Chris P (3 years ago)
– Submitted by Chris P (3 years ago)

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