Critic Reviews



Based on 32 critic reviews provided by
Acutely observed, subtly but sharply written and expertly acted.
What Maisie Knew lays waste to the comforting dogma that children are naturally resilient, and that our casual, unthinking cruelty to them can be answered by guilty and belated displays of affection. It accomplishes this not by means of melodrama, but by a mixture of understatement and thriller-worthy suspense.
The adults' behaviour is almost as confusing for us as it is for her. It's a neat trick that reminds us these weighty adult issues are both life-changing and, in the moment, somewhat insignificant to someone Maisie's age.
Cartwright, find something sadly timeless in a child torn apart in a custody battle that no one wins, least of all the child.
If the idea is for the audience to feel similarly yanked around, then What Maisie Knew succeeds wildly, but it fails to bring much insight to what essentially amounts to a massive parental guilt trip.
Young Aprile is a real find, investing what might have been a symbolic part with a visible sense of craft and patience (this isn’t merely cute-kid cinema), but it would be a shame not to mention the risks taken by Moore and Coogan, pushing difficult parts into daring registers of irresponsibility.
Village Voice
The film is admirably committed to simulating the messy experience of life as a real Maisie might live it. But sometimes, as she's tuckered out on her exquisite linens beneath gorgeous exposed brick and shelves of handcrafted toys, Maisie's world feels easier to admire than it is to worry over.
In this bleak indie bummer that confuses hopelessness with depth, they're really nothing more than selfish, one-dimensional monsters. Maisie's better off without them.
This is a fine idea for a PSA TV commercial, but (a) they already did it back in the ’70s and (b) it goes on well past the 30-second mark.
Slant Magazine
David Siegel and Scott McGehee's film renders the rhapsodic Henry James novel of the same name into an abhorrent slice of tasteless familial drama.

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