Released September 30, 2011
Directed By Kenneth Lonergan
Starring Anna Paquin, Matt Damon, and Mark Ruffalo
Margaret is a 2011 drama film that was originally supposed to be released in 2007, but due to many delays, it has taken years to see the light of day. It’s finally here, but is the 150-minute run time worth it?
The film revolves around Lisa Cohen (Paquin), a New York City teenager who one day, witnesses a bus driver run over and kill a woman, after running a red light. The catch is, the accident was partly her fault, because she was distracting the driver. The entire film stems from this incident. It depicts how Lisa deals with the guilt, shame, and confusion caused by the horrific accident.
The story itself takes work just to follow. You have to be engaged and focused on each scene and almost every word spoken by each character. The 150-minute run time is just painful, although the script is well-written. The problem is, there’s too much build up for the less than stellar finale. It works way too hard trying to be something great, but you end up a little disappointed in the end. The performance from Paquin is remarkable. She plays the part so well, sometimes you genuinely hate the girl, because of her sour attitude, but you also try to relate to her and how she must be feeling. She is the star here, with appearance by Matt Damon and Matthew Broderick, each as teachers. These guys are great actors, but their roles are just too small for them to shine or make an impact. The relationship between Lisa and her mother is dysfunctional, to say the least, but it makes for some passionate moments on screen.
To be quite honest, Margaret is just too long, too unconvincing, too eager to please, and the story is too hard to follow for the typical movie-goer. The film feels stretched beyond it’s own comfort zone. Thankfully, Paquin’s superb performance carries the weight. There’s a ton of emotion here, especially near the end. The film oddly explores race and politics, but for what purpose? There are many questionable things in Margaret that are simply unnecessary. These things only cause confusion and plot holes.
Overall, Margaret is somewhat of a disappointment, mainly thanks to it’s painful length, convoluted plot, pacing issues, and questionable storytelling decisions. There are definitely good things here though, such as a stand out performance from Anna Paquin, a great supporting cast, solid direction, and a good script.
3 out of 5