Margaret - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Margaret Reviews

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December 7, 2016
While Kenneth Lonergan has entered the cinematic lexicon again with this year's awards favorite Manchester by the Sea, it's beyond understandable to now go back and watch his previous film and feel that it's one of the most overlooked masterpieces in recent memory. Delayed release for years due to its lengthy editing period (and the legal battles it spawned), Margaret's running time clocks in at just over three hours, but it achieves that impossible cinematic goal of being both grandiose as a whole, while also considering nuance and humanity in every single shot. Scene-after-scene Margaret is a simply unforgettable experience, with Lonergan aptly balancing the harrowing parts with desirable spurts of sly humor, and the multitude of storylines come together in a way that satisfies viewers without spoon-feeding them. An ensemble piece too (featuring more than a few actors that have since become A-listers), Margaret displays some truly profound performances, and it isn't exactly likely that star Anna Paquin will ever have another role that's as revelatory towards her range. More thematically rich and sublime than any other American coming-of-age movie you're likely to see, Margaret is one of this past decade's most brilliant hidden gems.
November 13, 2016

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.
October 5, 2016
An incredible hidden gem with beautiful cinematography and music and great performances!
September 21, 2016
Original and raw. A list cast led by talented Paquin. Unique life of teenage girl, yet oddly familiar.
September 20, 2016
This story, completed in 2003, is an insightful reaction to 9/11/2001. A teenage character is a perfect vehicle to help explain why 3000 innocent people died that day. None of the characters in this story are able to listen to each other with empathy. Instead, they strike out in defensive anger. It is perfectly appropriate that the public cannot take an extra half hour to listen to the author's full story. This is a very important work in what it says about us all.
August 19, 2016
A highly effective, deeply textured little masterpiece.
Super Reviewer
May 25, 2016
A self-obsessed teenager of New York style privilege endeavors to correct a wrong done to an innocent, and that's just the introductory tip of the iceberg in this dense examination of modern day humanity. My first reaction was intense dislike of the main character, and thus the film(even after I realized she was meant as an example of us all), but I couldn't tear my eyes away. After we accept that we are flawed, then what? The work manages to be engaging even while wrestling with the answers. Bring your thinking cap!
Super Reviewer
May 16, 2016
A messy, fascinating and intimate epic. The accident that sets everything in motion is really just an excuse for Lonergan to view grief through the eyes of a teenager, who doesn't have the maturity to handle whats happening. Maybe it's "unfinished" or whatever but I don't really care.
February 6, 2016
Perfect. The perfect goddamn movie. Watch the 3 hour extended cut though. One of the best movies I've ever seen.
½ December 8, 2015
An underrated little masterpiece. Anna Paquin gives it her best in a tortured role.
November 22, 2015
As the movie dragged on and on and on, I liked it less and less and less and the people populating it even less than that.
Super Reviewer
½ October 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 in the middle of all this.
½ September 29, 2015
An underrated little masterpiece. Anna Paquin gives it her best in a tortured role.
½ September 13, 2015
interesting film drama.

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
September 4, 2015
What a vast jumble!
And, why Anna Paquin always picks nasty roles like this?
Or, why does she always deliver her characters in such nuisance way??
½ August 30, 2015
One of the longest movies ever made about the biggest spoiled brat ever born.
Super Reviewer
June 24, 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??"
½ June 4, 2015
I saw the longer version.. 186 mins, but it mostly flowed.... very good cast, but I felt like some of the the lead characters' personal things that were going on in her life, were unnecessary to add to the film...
May 2, 2015
Lengthy indeed, and not short with emotion by any means, "Margaret" presents a tragic story surrounding a heartbreaking event that intercepts young 17-year-old Margaret's life and shakes her to the core. Anna Paquin shines with her painful delivery that feels all too real, and Kenneth Lonergan directs with ease. A difficult film, but a necessary one.
½ April 29, 2015
Actually was surprised at how much I liked it. The acting is convincing and keeps you hooked for the duration even though a little long at just under two and a half hours
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