| July 11, 2012

Kenneth Lonergan’s Margaret was shot in 2007 and finally released theatrically in 2011 by Fox Searchlight Pictures. Even with its all star cast, with the likes of Anna Paquin, Matt Damon Mark Ruffalo and plenty of other big time actors, the film was in post production hell for a long period of time. Lonergan, the producers of the film and Fox Searchlight had a difficulty on finding an agreement on the final edit of the film, which led to a big legal hold up, to then stall the film even more. The film passed through many editors hands to find a cut that was suitable, to then finally finding a happy medium with a 186 minute extended cut and a 150 minute cut that was released theatrically. The end result of Lonergan’s Margaret is a real mess of a film, that wastes plenty its of actor’s cameo’s, over stays its welcome by being way too long and bloated with too many storylines going on all at once.

Lisa Cohen (Anna Paquin), is a 17 year old high school student that is involved in a major traffic accident, leading to a woman’s death. Lisa was trying to gain the attention of a bus driver and where he got his cowboy hat, leading to run a red traffic light. After feeling extremely guilty about the situation, Lisa manages to find the head of the woman’s estate and tries to sue the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, in order to get the driver fired. All of this is dealt with on top of Lisa’s issues in school, her dealing with her mother, various boy’s that she likes and plenty of other things that teenagers must endure through the pangs of adolescence.

Two of the great things that Margaret manages to deliver are really impressive exchanges of dialog and a showcase of the all of the actor’s abilities to bring that to the table. The writing is so good in moments, that it feels so natural, especially during the exchanges between Paquin and J. Smith Cameron, who plays Lisa’s mother, Joan. Even though there are characters that are barely in the film, people like Matthew Broderick, Jeanne Berlin, Mark Ruffalo show off some their abilities, as well as Lonergan’s ability to use them to tell his story. One of my favorite sub-plots in the film is the one with Jean Reno, who plays Ramon and Joan. Both of them are dealing with baggage from other marriages and their own children and yet, they manage to kindle a romance that is not only heartwarming, but realistic and charming. Even though this is a minor good aspect of the film, it is sub-plot’s like these that make Margaret come off as a very poor film.

There are too many plot lines, that could very well have their own film but instead hamper Margaret and make it feel like its going nowhere. With this being in place, the edit of the film feels very disjointed, as it zips from one character interaction to another, various shots of New York, to then go to another with no real bearing on an overall story. The through line is very much Lisa Cohen and the drama that she throws most of the characters into, but it still manages to feel each of the scenes happen, with no real bearing on the next or the one that preceded it.

As the film stands now, its easy to see why Margaret was in limbo for such a long time. With an epic script that only delivers in mere fleeting moments, Kenneth Lonergan’s Margaret is film that leaves one very much exhausted and wanting from what it promised.

About the Author:

is a graduate from Columbia College Chicago with a degree in Audio for Visual Media. He works as a freelance location sound mixer, boom operator, sound designer, and writer in his native Chicago. He's an avid collector of films, comics, and anime.
Filed in: Video and DVD

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