WHAT MAISIE KNEW is a contemporary New York City re-visioning of the Henry James novel by the same name, written by Carroll Cartwright and Nancy Doyne. It revolves around unwitting 7-year-old Maisie, caught in the middle of a custody battle between her mother Suzanna, an aging rock star, and her father, Beale, a major art dealer. In a race to win the court's advantage, Beale marries Maisie's nanny Margo, prompting Suzanna in turn to marry friend and local bartender, Lincoln. Both forced into a battle neither wishes to be a part of, Margo and Lincoln come to empathize with Maisie's position and over time with one another's. Teased by the notion of making their own surrogate family, the trio must either submit to the will of Maisie's parents or eventually face their wrath. Written by
Fortissimo Films [nl]
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 »
This is what I hope Henry James would have written, were he alive today. The book is tough sledding, late James when he was dictating his novels (due to tendinitis), and there was no holding him back. At least one Harvard professor called him "the greatest American novelist," but this work is deservedly minor.
The movie was perfect, in the top 1% of all I've seen. The style was the antithesis of James, radical "showing" instead of "telling."
I think the title should have been "What Maisie SAW," but that's too titillating. What she knew or felt only her future therapist will learn. We do have a hint though when her father throws her mother's flowers away, and M explains, "He was allergic."
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