Margaret review

Lonergan's drama has had a troubled history since filming completed in 2005. Legal wrangles have ensued over the final cut. But let's not get into all that. More likely, you'll want to know if it's any good or not. Well, it''s superbly performed to be sure but also overlong and slow. At two and a half hours, some determined pruning in places would have been welcome.

It's somewhat fascinating though seeing how some of the actors looked six years ago. This was well before Paquin developed into the sexy minsk of True Blood, and Damon had not yet succumbed to the middle aged jowliness he displayed in Contagion. And in one brief scene Ruffalo types a number into a mobile phone. How retro is that?

He does so because he's at odds with Paquin's character and needs her contact number. She plays Lisa, a Jewish 17-year-old living with her divorced mother and younger brother in an uptown Manhattan apartment. One day while out she inadvertantly distracts bus driver Ruffalo, who runs a red light and ends up causing the death of pedestrian Janney. The rest of the narrative deals with Lisa's guilt over the accident. And boy, does she know how to articulate her feelings. This teenager believes she's the centre of the universe and is unafraid to state her feelings to all and sundry, be that her fellow students, her harried actress mother (Lonergan's wife Smith-Cameron), the best friend of the deceased (Berlin) or her beleaguered teachers (Damon and Broderick to name but two).

Lonergan gives his cast time and space to fully inhabit their characters and the performers certainly deserve praise, but after a time sympathy for them is lost. Paquin is excellent but one soon wishes she would shut up and get a hold of herself. One feels the same about the movie to be honest. It's a heartfelt, worthy affair but a trifle too self indulgent to satisfy.

Margaret at IMDb

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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