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Archive for August 4th, 2012

by Allan Fish

(USA 2011/2012 186m) DVD1

No cowboy hats in the Upper West Side

p  Sydney Pollack, Scott Rudin, Gary Gilbert, Anthony Minghella  d/w  Kenneth Lonergan  ph  Ryszard Lenczewski  ed  Annie McCabe  m  Nico Muhly  art  James Donahue

Anna Paquin (Lisa Cohen), J.Smith-Cameron (Joan, her mother), Jeannie Berlin (Emily), Mark Ruffalo (Maretti), Jean Reno (Ramon), Sarah Steele (Becky), Matt Damon (Mr Aaron), Matthew Broderick (John), Allison Janney (Monica), Kieran Culkin (Paul), John Gallagher Jnr (Darren), Aidem (Abigail), Rosemarie Dewitt (Mrs Maretti),

The long awaited second film of Kenneth Lonergan had been shot in 2005, but only surfaced in 2011 after various lawsuits in a cut which was anonymously assembled by Martin Scorsese and Thelma Schoonmaker.  (In the time that passed in between, two of its producers – Pollack and Minghella – had passed away.)  That original cut of Margaret was a series of affecting moments, but didn’t hang together as a whole.  This extended cut still doesn’t hang together quite, but the impact makes one realise it should never quite hang together, for that would suggest neatness, and Margaret is a film about disorder and ambiguity.  Even the title is a vague reference to a poem by Gerald Manley Hopkins.

Paquin plays Lisa, a seventeen year old girl from a self-described over-privileged liberal Jewish household.  Her mother Joan is a stage actress wanting her latest play to be a success.  She has a scholarship, has a boy called Darren so tongue-tied in love with her that he stutters out a date request and is about to go on a trip with her father to a ranch.  Wandering her local haunts for a cowboy hat with no success, she sees one just like she wants on a bus driver’s head.  As he’s driving off she tries to get his attention, which she eventually does, but in doing so he takes his eye off the road, runs a red light and fatally injures a middle-aged woman.  Lisa holds the woman as she dies in the street, but she doesn’t report the driver for causing the accident because she knows she was partly culpable.  But the accident begins to make her lose control, any interest in school, makes her seek out sex with not only a willing druggie deflowerer but with one of her teachers and try to get justice by having the bus driver fired and changing her statement.  (more…)

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