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What Maisie Knew (2013)



Average Rating: 7.7/10
Reviews Counted: 103
Fresh: 90 | Rotten: 13

It's undeniably difficult to watch at times, but What Maisie Knew ultimately rises on the strength of its solidly sourced script, powerful performances, and empathetic direction.


Average Rating: 7.7/10
Critic Reviews: 34
Fresh: 29 | Rotten: 5

It's undeniably difficult to watch at times, but What Maisie Knew ultimately rises on the strength of its solidly sourced script, powerful performances, and empathetic direction.



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Average Rating: 3.9/5
User Ratings: 14,118

My Rating

Movie Info

A contemporary reimagining of Henry James' novel, WHAT MAISIE KNEW tells the story of a captivating little girl's struggle for grace in the midst of her parents' bitter custody battle. Told through the eyes of the title's heroine, Maisie navigates this ever-widening turmoil with a six-year-old's innocence, charm and generosity of spirit.




Carroll Cartwright, Nancy Doyne

Aug 13, 2013


Millenium Entertainment - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (103) | Top Critics (34) | Fresh (90) | Rotten (13)

Sensitive and almost unwatchably perceptive about dysfunctional families -- and it's acted with knife-sharp precision.

August 21, 2013 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The film is touching, filled with taste and care, but not enough to avoid being coy and sentimental.

June 12, 2013 Full Review Source: The New Republic
The New Republic
Top Critic IconTop Critic

On the surface, this indie does sound like standard-issue material, but its dynamics are far more complex than its simple exterior.

June 4, 2013 Full Review Source: San Jose Mercury News
San Jose Mercury News
Top Critic IconTop Critic

What Maisie Knew gives the audience a ground-eye view of its mesmerizing title character, a plucky, charismatic New Yorker who navigates downtown bars and building lobbies with the street savvy of a pro.

June 3, 2013 Full Review Source: Washington Post
Washington Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The result is a film that deeply engages us on multiple levels. Not only do we wonder what Maisie knows and how she knows it, we want to get this seedling to a place where she won't have to be transplanted every day.

June 3, 2013 Full Review Source: Philadelphia Inquirer
Philadelphia Inquirer
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It's a study of human nature, not at its worst, but at its most typically pathetic, and it goes to show that the more things don't change, the more they stay lousy.

June 3, 2013 Full Review Source: Hearst Newspapers
Hearst Newspapers
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Esta é a grande tragédia dos maus pais: o fato de não merecerem o amor incondicional que recebem dos pequenos seres que destroem com tanta facilidade.

January 10, 2014 Full Review Source: Cinema em Cena
Cinema em Cena

It's often-heartbreaking stuff, but never feels manipulative, mostly because the movie puts itself in Maisie's shoes. Strongly recommended

December 12, 2013 Full Review Source: EntertainmentTell

Scott McGehee and David Siegel's adaptation commendably preserves the book's child perspective even if it doesn't quite match the characteristically dark shades of the author's moral fare.

November 4, 2013 Full Review Source: Film Comment Magazine
Film Comment Magazine

A superb, moving film, it's a tribute to author Henry James that his 1897 story could prove so illuminating when adapted for the 21st century. Performances throughout are terrific, seeped as they are in guilt, resentment and confusion.

September 29, 2013 Full Review Source: 3AW

The filmmakers, Scott McGehee and David Siegel, seem not at all intimidated by Henry James's formidable prose.

September 16, 2013 Full Review Source: Arts Fuse
Arts Fuse

Some scenes are tinged with dark comedy; some are heartrending; and some fuse the two, as when Maisie comforts a tearful friend during a sleepover in Susanna's huge Manhattan townhouse, while the delinquent grown-ups indulge themselves downstairs.

September 7, 2013 Full Review Source: Movie Talk
Movie Talk

[Onata Aprile's] tremendously-believable on-screen spirit reminds us how resilient children can be.

August 30, 2013 Full Review Source: Birmingham Mail
Birmingham Mail

What Maisie Knew runs its titular, newly-orphaned moppet through so many heartbreaking scenarios and encounters, I was stirred to start drawing up the adoption papers myself.

August 27, 2013 Full Review Source: Quickflix

This accomplished film is closer to Kramer vs Kramer or middle-period Woody Allen than it is to James. But that is no bad place to be.

August 25, 2013 Full Review Source: Observer [UK]
Observer [UK]

Even though this drama is based on a 115-year-old novel, it feels powerfully timely today in the way it recounts events surrounding a particularly grim divorce.

August 23, 2013 Full Review Source:

Vanderham and Skarsgård put in career bests; Moore - and this is really saying something - hasn't been this impressive since Safe.

August 23, 2013 Full Review Source: Irish Times
Irish Times

[A] beautifully acted, thought-provoking drama that skilfully updates Henry James's little-read 1897 novella to the modern era.

August 23, 2013 Full Review Source: Daily Mail [UK]
Daily Mail [UK]

A rather sentimental, precious tale, and the important sense of Maisie growing up and learning about the world and its failings doesn't come through.

August 22, 2013 Full Review Source: Guardian

Handsomely shot and stopping just short of cloying sentiment, this is an accomplished, engaging work.

August 22, 2013 Full Review Source: Daily Telegraph
Daily Telegraph

Whenever Moore is off screen - the only character with size-10 oomph - the film risks evaporating altogether. Moral: it isn't that easy to modernise Henry James.

August 22, 2013 Full Review Source: Financial Times
Financial Times

Impressively directed and superbly written, this is a powerfully emotional and strikingly perceptive drama with excellent performances from a note-perfect cast.

August 22, 2013 Full Review Source: ViewLondon

McGehee and Siegel never find a way to really get inside Maisie's head.

August 22, 2013 Full Review Source: Little White Lies
Little White Lies

An intimate story of repeated betrayal, five terrific performances get this movie over some rocky terrain, including a pat resolution.

August 19, 2013 Full Review Source: Scotsman

With brilliant performances from Julianne Moore and newcomer Onata Aprile, this touching portrayal of a marriage breakdown is at times an uncomfortable watch as it focuses its attentions on the child stuck in the middle.

August 19, 2013 Full Review Source: Film4

Audience Reviews for What Maisie Knew

Not a bad movie by any means, but really expected something more. With a title like that, I thought there was some huge dark secret to reveal. There's not. What Maisie knows is what it is apparent to the audience pretty much from scene one - her parents are hopeless. That's it. There's no abuse or scandal here. Light drug use is hinted at, but not explored - just two people who shouldn't have been a couple and certainly shouldn't have had a child together. Both parents move on to other partners. It just so happens that the partner Maisie's dad chooses is the nanny hired by her mother. Then both parents behave selfishly and loose their new partners - the two get together and look after Maisie. That's where it gets far fetched and lost me.
The child actress who plays Maisie is very good. The adult cast are also effective. The story just could have been so much more than it was.
May 24, 2014

Super Reviewer

Based on Henry James' 1897 novel of the same name, Scott McGehee and David Siegel's contemporary version of What Maisie Knew is pretty much exactly the same, albeit for a couple of slight changes. Updating a story over a hundred years old and making it relevant without loosing any of the original meaning is not something we see every day coming from the world of film but McGehee and Siegel have knocked the nail on the head with this one. It goes to show that the life of a young Child of divorce can still be a tough one. I'm not sure Maisie's mother needed to be a Rock star though. I think Julianne Moore's performance was the weakest by far though as the other three adults and the lovely Onata Aprile did great jobs in their respective roles. Julianne Moore's performance and her unnecessary profession are the two things that are keeping me from giving the film five out of five to be honest, as I found the film to be intelligent, believable and somewhat uplifting. A genuinely nice surprise without the usual schmaltz.
May 12, 2014

Super Reviewer

This is a heart wrenching story of a precious little girl (brilliantly played by Onata Aprile) caught between her two unbelievably, selfish, divorced parents. Nothing terribly bad, or tragic, happens in this movie. However, my heart was breaking just from watching the confusion, and heartbreak, in this little girl's eyes as she is continually let down by her immature parents. This movie is very slow going, but worth the effort. A rather happy, but bittersweet ending, also.....
October 19, 2013

Super Reviewer


"What Maisie Knew" is one of those dramas that takes itself very seriously, and in the end doesn't really know what it what's to be. At least that's what I took away from it. This is pretty much about the absolute worst set of parents ever(Jullianne Moore and Steve Coogan). They fight all the time and neglect their daughter, Maisie. The are always pawning her off to the nanny(and Coogan's new wife) Margo(Joanna Vanderham) and Moore's new boyfriend Lincoln(Alexander Skarsgård ) They pretty much bond with Maisie while her parents are off doing who knows what with who knows who. It's find of a downer of a movie, even though it's not really meant to be that way. It's very slow and the performances are all solid, but nothing spectacular. This is one to just skip and catch on Netflix eventually if your really bored, or need help sleeping.
October 11, 2013
Everett Johnson

Super Reviewer

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