“Continuing with the films that video store guy called out when ringing me up, we have Margaret. I’d actually spotted this one at the store on my first trip, but since they had two copies, I waited until the prices were lowered, figuring it’d still be there. And it was. Yay.
So there was actually some behind the scenes drama that affected the initial release of this one. I remember really wanting to see it, but I can’t quite remember why. I think it was that John Gallagher Jr (Tony winning actor from Spring Awakening, and more importantly American Idiot) was in it. But really, the ensemble assembled for this should be reason enough for excitement: Anna Paquin, Matt Damon, Mark Ruffalo, Alison Janney, Matthew Broderick, Jean Reno, Kieran Culkin. I did some quick research to brush up on what the drama was, and it was between the director and the studio over final cut. Writer/Director Kenneth Lonergan wanted a far longer cut than the other guys wanted to let him have. Eventually it was pared down to 2.5 hours and released under the radar and quickly ushered onto DVD, where it was overpriced as most indie movies like this tend to be.
The story doesn’t sound like a whole lot. A young woman (not named Margaret) sees a woman (not named Margaret) hit by a bus. This girl, Lisa feels guilty as she was arguably at fault for the accident. She then spends the next indeterminate period of time (by which I mean I don’t remember how much story time passes in the film) agonizing and obsessing over it, as she tries to find a way to come to terms with the events and move on with her life. Kinda simple right?
Wrong. It was absolutely fascinating, in both the mundane and the extraordinary. The single biggest factor I can credit for that is Ms Paquin in possibly a career best performance. Kinda makes you remember that she won on Oscar as a kid (!), and that Ms Sookie Stackhouse is a legit powerhouse of an actress. She simply vibrant and engaging, and in a stellar cast of amazing actors, the standout strongest performance. Please, young actresses out there, if you’re ever playing a high school character, do your research and watch this. This is how you’re not annoying. This is how you carry a film. This is how you create a character we care about.
I don’t know if I wish it had been a longer cut, since 2.5 hours is very taxing on the attention span, but I don’t think I would have minded seeing more of her story. Apparently it’s a pretty polarizing movie. Critics and audience alike are apparently split on how much they like it (presumably the run time and the smaller more every day scenes are the dividing line). I think I’ve made it pretty clear on what side I stand.”