Writer and director, Kenneth Lonergan brings a struggled film to be extremely devastating, yet vivid. It stars Anna Paquin (as Lisa Cohen), J. Smith-Cameron (as Joan Cohen), Jean Reno (as Ramon), Jeannie Berlin (as Emily), Allison Janney (as Monica Patterson), Matthew Broderick (as John), Mark Ruffalo (as Maretti), and Matt Damon (as Mr. Aaron). In Lonergan's second film for directing and seventh film for writing, he planned to have "Margaret" released in 2007. That goal was not complete because Lonergan spent an extra four years fighting with Fox Searchlight Pictures since the film had a short-cut and a long-cut and that resulted in several lawsuits.
The film is about a girl named Lisa Cohen, she is a seventeen-year-old high school student that feels she played a role in a bus accident. The bus driver is Maretti, and the lady that was hit is Monica Patterson. This accident leaves Lisa to be in horrid frustration; she emotionally argues with her mother Joan and Joan's boyfriend, Ramon; she tries to impress her two teachers John and Mr. Aaron; and above all she is hard on herself. When a lady named Emily helps to try and solver her case, it leads Lisa with a basic truth: that her youthful ideas are on a collision course against the realities and compromises of the adult world.
"Margaret" is not a feel-good movie, but it is one of the most important films around. In today's society, depressing events happen all the time and sometimes people do not admit that they are responsible for something horrible. Paquin's acting and characterization of this dramatic accident makes me feel that telling the truth is always the right choice.
With numerous production conflicts, Lonergan did not give up with "Margaret." Lonergan delivered a one hundred and fifty minute version, but the original one he wanted was close to three hours. Director Martin Scorsese and Editor Thelma Schoonmaker were chose to put the film in order. Their task was not finished, since the funds ran out. What was good though, was that Fox Searchlight released the one hundred and fifty minute draft (limited). The film began to receive many positive reviews and made Top 10 Films of the Year lists.
"Margaret" will make you cry. I cried watching both versions, which were the theatrical and extended cut. I can even remember the sad moments and can think to myself how the emotions of Lisa compares to others that struggles with emotions. Will Lisa ever be relieved? Will the teachers forgive Lisa for her bizarre behavior? Or why was this this film not a landmark masterpiece? And why did I not see it on the big screen? The questions will be waiting for anyone who has not seen "Margaret." Three stars.
Note: No one is named "Margaret," it is a poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins and is mentioned at some point in the film.