Around 100 minutes into Kenneth Lonergan's "Margaret" there is a long, slow pan across some of New York City's landscape which is followed by an unbroken shot of Lisa (played by Anna Paquin) walking through its indifferent crowds. The two shots run for several minutes and invite reflection as they breathe, complementing and solidifying the tone set in the opening of the film in which people move through the city in motion, set to Nico Muhly's evocative score.
There is an ache for connection and understanding at the heart of Kenneth Lonergan's "Margaret" which Anna Paquin brings to the screen with a vulnerability and depth not even hinted at during her 25 season slum as Sookie Stackhouse in "True Blood". Her incredible performance brings to mind Gena Rowlands when she worked with John Cassavetes. "Margaret" is not Cinéma vérité by any means - it is positively filmic. Yet, like a Cassavetes film, it invites the audience to participate in the life of its characters by showing them doing and talking about things in scene after scene which are not necessarily integral to its central or overarching narrative. These scenes serve to build a multidimensional portrait of its characters which, again, are allowed the space to breathe and develop.
There is music in the film but not everywhere, and when it's present it serves a purpose and creates a synergy with the cinematography which is rarely experienced in modern cinema.
It is unclear to this reviewer why this film, shot in 2005, was not released until 2011. Seen in its original theatrically released form (150 minutes), "Margaret" is an overwhelming experience, a film filled with beautiful, quiet moments and a near-magnificent character study. Smaller character parts as played Matt Damon, Jean Reno, Allison Janney and Mark Ruffalo are reminders of these actors talents as they fill their respective parts with nuance and complexity despite minimal screen time.
Reportedly, the director's preferred cut is three hours long. I haven't seen it, but I can say right here that the 150 minute cut is just incredible and works as a complete narrative, an exploration of the human condition and a character study in and of itself.
this picture of dramatic provocateur kept me viewing whereas another film of it's typecast i would not have endured. the genre product is simple enough to 'usually' fall asleep to though the performances enlightened another dimension, gave depth to plot as it traversed a bumpy character based loop de loop revolving this girls troubled time in life or grasping the individualistic nature of it.
*spoiler alert** to not bestow one opinionated issues upon everyone else mayhaps be that nature of bond. yet is it a spoiler at all
And, why Anna Paquin always picks nasty roles like this?
Or, why does she always deliver her characters in such nuisance way??
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??"