Margaret centers on a 17-year-old New York City high-school student who feels certain that she inadvertently played a role in a traffic accident that has claimed a woman's life. In her attempts to set things right she meets with opposition at every step. Torn apart with frustration, she begins emotionally brutalizing her family, her friends, her teachers, and most of all, herself. She has been confronted quite unexpectedly with a basic truth: that her youthful ideals are on a collision course against the realities and compromises of the adult world. Written by
Kenneth Lonergan was contractually obligated to deliver a cut of 150 minutes but his preferred version ran close to three hours. Martin Scorsese and his longtime editor Thelma Schoonmaker were drafted in to hone the film into shape but were unable to complete their assignment as the funds ran out. Eventually Fox Searchlight released the film in its 150 minute format in a very limited run. Much to their surprise, it generated huge waves of critical favor, appearing on many critics' Top 10 Films of the Year lists. See more »
There's a close-up shot of a New York Times article about the bus driver. The article says he works for the Metropolitan Transit Authority. The correct name is the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. See more »
For me it was more of a stressful experience than sitting and enjoying a movie.
The cast boasts Anna Paquin (of True Blood fame), Hollywood heavyweight Matt Damon, Jean Reno from Leon and Matthew Broderick. I've got a real soft spot for Broderick because of Election, and Ferris Bueller's Day Off is one of my favourite films, but even the presence of the righteous dude couldn't redeem this film for me. Mark Ruffalo is a favourite of mine too (Shutter Island, The Kids Are Alright, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind). Ruffalo, Damon and Broderick are scarcely in the film though.
It's really all about Lisa: a hormonal teenager who seeks to satisfy her insatiable desire for conflict and drama by pestering all of the people who were involved or affected by a horrific bus accident that she witnessed. Paquin gives a powerful and convincing performance throughout so you can't really blame her for the films failure. You can't simply blame the fact that the character is especially detestable either we've seen anti-heroes and super villains time and time again in cinema, and they can be some of the most engrossing characters to watch.
The film's problem is that it focuses entirely on this high-strung, volatile, bitchy adolescent as she goes about a mundane course of day-to-day life, seeking attention and rubbing people up the wrong way. There's no real point to all this. The conclusion resolves to say nothing more than "she's probably like this because of her age and she doesn't get along with her mum" or something.
Margaret is nothing more than a character study of a stereotypically hostile, obnoxious teenager. There's no clear controlling idea, it wallows in ambiguity and the attempts to reference Shakespeare are laughably pretentious. It's too long, entirely stressful to sit through and has no real payoff at the end.
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