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Margaret

  • Film
  • 5 out of 5 stars
Margaret
Photograph: Searchlight Pictures
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Time Out says

5 out of 5 stars
This is a glorious mess! Kenneth Lonergan’s long-delayed follow-up to 2000’s revered brother-sister drama ‘You Can Count on Me’ finally arrives in cinemas with little fanfare and the bitter air of failure around it. Don’t believe the gossip: the writer-director’s sprawling look at the effect a gruesome accident has on Manhattan teen Lisa Cohen (Anna Paquin) bursts with ambition and specificity in its novelistic, social-drama narrative. Our attention is grabbed right from the gorgeous slo-mo credits sequence of numerous New Yorkers going about their day – not obliviously, but more in a state of expectantly suspended animation. There’s palpable unease in the air (very potently post-9/11), and even as Lonergan sets the stage in a few mundane subsequent scenes – Lisa discussing grades with an instructor (Matt Damon) and flirting bashfully with a classmate – this strange sense of tension never dissipates.

Then the accident occurs – a woman, played with one-scene wonder by Allison Janney, gets hit by a bus – and Lisa’s life, as well as the movie containing her, goes disturbingly, brilliantly off the rails. The next two hours are the sort of no-holds-barred psychodrama that John Cassavetes specialised in: Lisa pinballs between raw emotional states while a number of vivid supporting characters, from Damon’s pushover schoolteacher to a brash Upper West Sider superbly played by Elaine May’s daughter Jeannie Berlin, circle her like moths round a frenzied flame. Paquin deserves the highest accolades for her ferociously committed performance, turning what could have been a privileged prep-school archetype into a scorching depiction of adolescent grief. And though not all of Lonergan’s conceits work on a scene-by-scene basis (an upper-crust womaniser played by Jean Reno skews a bit too close to caricature), the film has a cumulative power – solidified by a devastating opera-house finale – that’s staggering. This is frayed-edges filmmaking at its finest.
Written by Keith Uhlich, Time Out New York

Release Details

  • Rated:15
  • Release date:Friday 2 December 2011
  • Duration:150 mins

Cast and crew

  • Director:Kenneth Lonergan
  • Screenwriter:Kenneth Lonergan
  • Cast:
    • Anna Paquin
    • Kieran Culkin
    • Mark Ruffalo
    • Matt Damon
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