Critics 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.



Total Count: 97


Audience Score

User Ratings: 7,742
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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 against the realities and compromises of the adult world. -- (C) Fox Searchlight


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Critic Reviews for Margaret

All Critics (97) | Top Critics (33) | Fresh (71) | Rotten (26)

Audience Reviews for Margaret

  • Oct 22, 2015
    It took so many years and two lawsuits to have this film edited and released, but the final result is this bloated and self-important mess of ideas that Lonergan was incapable of putting together cohesively, and it is even worse that the protagonist is so detestable.
    Carlos M Super Reviewer
  • Jun 17, 2015
    Hard-hitting and emotionally haranguing, this absorbing, perceptive drama provides plenty of deep thought with a real understanding of the differences between the teenage and adult worlds. Margaret isn't the name of anyone in the movie, it's a character in a poem who laments for her younger self's ability to care about the world in a more urgent manner. Margaret's attitude is reflected in one of the movie's major themes as high schooler Lisa (Anna Paquin) feels responsible for a bus accident that killed a pedestrian. Furthermore, she believes the bus driver is at least equally culpable and who does not demonstrate remorse to her satisfaction, so she takes it upon herself to force him to accept responsibility. I could write a term paper about this movie, and at nearly 3 hours there is plenty of material. With the many hysterical outbursts it's probably a difficult film for a lot of people to enjoy but I was rapt in the characters and story. Credit goes to an outstanding cast - I was only interested in the first place because of Paquin, and she in mostly commanding in a thoroughly draining role - and exceptional writing with an ear for dialogue that captures how people really talk and think. Another theme is perception, and how different viewpoints can come to opposite conclusions with the same information, whether due to generational or cultural or any number of other gaps. New York is also given time to inhabit the screen and leave an indelible mark as a character, although I could have done with fewer camera pans of buildings. The law takes an important part in the story and the movie examines the complicated issues the way great lawsuit movies like 'Erin Brockovich' do, on a ground level during conversations over coffee that everyone can understand instead of during boring courtroom speeches. The complications are fascinatingly distasteful. For instance, if the woman had survived for several days before dying, that would have increased the call for damages significantly. On the other hand, she was consciously clinging to life for several minutes, which calls for a greater monetary reward than someone killed outright. The bulk of the time is spent with Lisa trying to come to terms with what she thinks she's done. She drifts away from her best friends at school and mother, a concerned but neurotic and neglectful stage actress, and spends more time with her math teacher and the victim's best friend. Her cement mixer of emotions also leads her to her first sexual experience in a starkly tender scene of nervousness and anticipation. That was unexpected, which is a big part of what I admired about this film: it continuously strives to find unconventional footing in scene setups that are very familiar and yet the outcomes are very organic. Not everything works, particularly the direction she takes with her math teacher played by Matt Damon didn't jibe. As she experiences this rapid growth cycle, she eventually finds her way back to her innate connection with her mother. "In this country, this is how we punish people who have done bad things." "By getting money from from their employer's insurance companies??"
    Doctor S Super Reviewer
  • Mar 05, 2015
    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. Spoiler....... 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 M Super Reviewer
  • Jan 15, 2015
    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

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