What Maisie Knew is a contemporary New York City revisioning of the Henry James novel by the same name. It revolves around unwitting 7-year-old Maisie, caught in the middle of a custody battle between her mother Susanna, an aging rock star, and her father, Beale, a major art dealer. Written by
In an interview on the NPR program "Fresh Air", Julianne Moore said that she drew on Courtney Love and Patti Smith for inspiration for her character in this movie, who is (like Love and Smith) a rock star who is also a mother. See more »
What Maisie Knew (2012), directed by Scott McGehee and David Siegel, is an extraordinary movie about an extraordinary young girl. Maisie (Onata April) deserves better parents. Both her mother (Julianne Moore) and her father (Steve Coogan) are self-absorbed people who care about Maisie, but care about their careers more than about their daughter.
Maisie is cheerful, cooperative, and adaptive. Although her life has all the trappings of luxury--a nanny, an exclusive private school--she lives in a precarious world. Her parents make only haphazard arrangements for her care. Sometimes these arrangements work, sometimes they don't. Once, the haphazard plans fall through, and Maisie is literally abandoned among strangers. We don't know what will happen next to Maisie, but it probably won't be good. Her parents don't deserve such a great little girl. But, she is their daughter, and she'll have to play the cards she's been dealt.
The acting is strong in this movie, but I think the most impressive work is done by Julianne Moore. Moore is brave enough to take a role where she often looks tired and worn, and where her character is truly inadequate as a parent. You cringe at the way Moore makes stabs at being a good mother, but never quite works hard enough to actually achieve that goal. I think she deserves--and will get--an Oscar nomination for her work in this film.
There are a few lovely views of a beach and the ocean in the movie. These will work better in a theater, but everything else will work well on the small screen. This is definitely a film that is worth seeking out and seeing.
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