MOVIE REVIEWS |
EDITORIALS | EVENTS |
EXAMINER.COM FILM ARTICLES
Tuesday, July 10, 2012
Margaret (Extended Cut)
In Generations, Anguish In Voices, Cries For Justice
J. Smith-Cameron (center) as Joan and Anna Paquin as Lisa in Kenneth Lonergan's
epic New York City drama "Margaret".
Myles Aronowitz/Fox Searchlight Pictures
Omar P.L. Moore/PopcornReel.com
Tuesday, July 10,
arrived today on Blu-Ray and DVD, an event that will go unheralded compared to
next week's theatrical release of "The Dark Knight Rises", but Mr. Lonergan's
epic drama -- as dramatic off-screen for the director as on -- is a piece of
brilliance waiting to be seen by cineastes thirsting for adult moral drama at
its finest. Anna Paquin fans won't see a better performance from her; her
role as Lisa Cohen, an exacting, melodramatic and righteous 17-year-old high
school student transitioning to adulthood, is a masterstroke.
Filmed in 2005 and finally completed (at least production-wise) in 2008 before
additional years of editing, "Margaret" is named for the young girl in Gerald
Manley Hopkins' 1880 poem Spring And Fall: To A Young Child, a poem
illustrating that life through an innocent minor's eyes is pitied and tragic,
soon to become jaded, blunt and all-too adult. Lisa feels as responsible
as anyone for a horrific accident on the Upper West Side. As resolutely
open and emotionally expressive as Mr. Hopkins' poems, the smart and astute Lisa
adopts adult traits even before she's ready to as she eyes the offending bus
driver (Mark Ruffalo) who has run a fateful red light. Lisa's guilt is
palpable, and Mr. Lonergan amps up the anguish in her world. Lisa forges a
partnership with the affected Emily (a great Jeannie Berlin) to make sure the
driver is held accountable for his actions.
Mr. Lonergan's three-hour and six minute extended cut is sheer opera: set on a
New York City stage it's where teenage certainty and rectitude collide with
adult lies and abruptness. It's audacious fairy tale versus finite
haunting reality. Everyone in life has their "drama" -- every character
onscreen has a theatrical moment -- and even in its original, undisciplined long
form complete with audio drops, awkward sound mixes, mismatched soundtrack and hard
scene transitions "Margaret" works so much better than even Mr. Lonergan himself
might have hoped. The ambient noise: a cacophony of chattering voices --
exactly what you'd hear in real life as you walk streets but not typically hear
in a film -- immerse us in the film's busy theater of sound.
New York City is always present: in apartment building windows, in diners and on
sidewalks. Mr. Lonergan is acutely aware of the New Yorkers-as-audience around the
characters, and "Margaret" is calculated in such a fashion as to tailor itself
to the fact that in that fine city its denizens literally are in very close
proximity on any given sidewalk. Mr. Lonergan has a keen ear for the city
and characters that flow through it. Amidst the incisive parsing of words
and semantics the director steeps his film in the power of language and speech.
There are interruptions, misunderstandings, explanations, crosstalk and lots of
impatience. Cinematographer Ryszard Lenczewski takes ample time to absorb
views of Manhattan's skyline and tall buildings, often framing them as dwarfing
companions to the humans who front and wade amongst and around them.
Often biting, cruel and harsh, the dialogue between Lisa, a stage production
assistant, and her award-winning stage-actress mother Joan (an excellent J.
Smith-Cameron) highlights the inherent tensions between teenagers and adults.
In "Margaret" who is the "adult" and who is the "child" often shifts even when
two characters on screen at any time are either both adults or children.
Each world intrudes rudely upon the other, co-existing uneasily. Even when
heated, intense arguments occur in Lisa's class about 9/11/2001 adults are
conspicuous by their very absence (save for two moderating teachers.) Very
few people in "Margaret" seem to do any serious listening to each other even as
there are continuous advisories by some to do so.
Adults in "Margaret" have abundant contempt for minors and vice versa.
There's shouting, cursing, screaming and put-downs: verbal sparring at its best.
None of it is idle. There's context, irony, contradiction, elucidation in
the characters and a maturity about the material Mr. Lonergan writes that
is authentic, finely observed and intelligently orchestrated. Every action
of a character has deeper meaning, every expression and specific etymological
and literal construction resonates. It's thought dialogue: each spoken
sentence makes you think. Each bit of spoken interaction between players
operates as part of a play, a prologue or introduction in its own right.
Lisa searches for meaning in her dialogue with adults, especially her mother
whom she has a volatile relationship with. Joan and Lisa are very much
alike; they could be said to be mirror images of each other, separated by a
generation or two. The film's operatic climax is a consummation or
closing, if you will, of the gulf between them. At all times "Margaret" is
alive with an emotional and literal fervor that's fascinating.
On Blu-Ray Mr. Lonergan's theatrical edition of "Margaret" (at two hours and 30
minutes) is sharp, rich and very much alive. The disc has its standard
high-definition and widescreen (1.85:1) but no special features, although a
separate DVD disc contains the extended cut -- a special feature all its own --
in 5.1 audio. The great extended edition is a film that is searching for
itself: unwinding, long takes, short takes, ephemeral scenes, messy, junky --
but gloriously bold and beautiful in its unwieldiness. There's no getting
away from it: "Margaret" is an excellent, well-acted film, and a profound
triumph. I hope audiences take a good hard look at it. "Margaret" is
one of the best films you've never seen.
At its core the extended cut of "Margaret" (as well as last September's
theatrical edition) is about the death of innocence and the transition from
idealism to intransigence and inflexibility. It is fitting that the victim
of the very realistic-looking bus accident says to Lisa that the name of her own
daughter is Lisa (whom it turns out had died years earlier). The utterance
is a metaphor for the kind of foreshadowing that Shakespeare himself engineered
so well: Lisa has seen her own "death" literally flash before her very eyes, and
spends the rest of the film agonizing over it and mourning it, no matter how
sincerely invested she is in achieving justice.
Also with: Jean Reno, Kenneth Lonergan, Stephen Adly Guirgis, Betsy Aidem,
Matthew Broderick, Kieran Culkin, John Gallagher Jr., Jonathan Hadary, Hina
Abdullah, Sarah Steele, Olivia Thirlby, Michael Ealy, Alison Janney, Rosemarie
The extended edition of "Margaret" is not
rated by the Motion Picture Association Of America. Its aforementioned
running time: three hours and six minutes. The theatrical edition (Blu-Ray)
is rated R by the MPAA for strong language, sexuality, some drug use and
disturbing images. The film's
running time is two hours and 30 minutes.
COPYRIGHT 2012. POPCORNREEL.COM. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
MOVIE REVIEWS |
EDITORIALS | EVENTS |
| PHOTOS |
EXAMINER.COM FILM ARTICLES