Margaret

2011

Action / Drama

33
Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 74%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Spilled 48%
IMDb Rating 6.5 10 14189

Synopsis


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Cast

Krysten Ritter as Salesgirl
Matt Damon as Mr. Aaron
Mark Ruffalo as Maretti
Anna Paquin as Lisa Cohen
720p.BLU
849.82 MB
1280*720
English
R
23.976 fps
2hr 30 min
P/S 2 / 9

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by Cinnyaste 3 / 10

Protect Your Snout

Note: This review reflects the 149 minute version.

A privileged New York high school junior literally shepherds a dying woman to the other side after she's hit by a bus. The driver, distracted by the junior, Lisa (Paquin), runs a red light and flattens the woman. "Margaret" is Lisa's reconciliation of a youthful outlook to one more adult. It's a premise sounding far more promising than the result.

The title derives from the Hopkins' poem, "Spring and Fall" (1880)

"To a young child

Margaret, are you grieving / Over Goldengrove unleaving? / Leaves, like the things of man, you / With your fresh thoughts care for, can you? / Ah! as the heart grows older / It will come to such sights colder. . ."

A talented filmmaker, Mr. Lonergan crafted "You Can Count On Me," a sharply observed tale of two siblings in crisis. He also wrote the entertaining yet trivial "Analyze This," "Analyze That," and the disappointing "Gangs of New York." "Margaret" is an attempt to thumb his nose at those trivialities. Instead, he rubs intellectual snobbery and pretense into the audience's nose; the attempt at drawing parallels between Lisa's quest and world politics arrives at the table still raw and is uncomfortably didactic.

Some reviewers crowed, "Masterpiece! Masterpiece!" ("The New York Times" printed a feature article about "Margaret.") A troubled history and abysmal box office are the counterpoints. While at times masterful and somewhat intriguing, "Margaret" is, at its gooey center, an overlong meander with a theme cobbed from a poem. One wonders what the 36 additional minutes in Lonergan's cut (for an astonishing, snoozy 185 minutes) add to this already plodding misfire.

The completion of this film has been the subject of a few lawsuits. The legal wrangling led to a film wrested from Lonergan's hands to be edited by Schoonmaker and Scorcese. Fear not, Masochists. The DVD features both cuts.

Wasted! Wasted! Wasted! Broderick, Damon, Reno, Ruffalo, Janney (particularly the wonderful Janney - the accident victim). The hapless characters could easily have been handled by lesser-knowns for the material is far too shallow for the combined star power. Adding insult, Lonergan wrote himself in as the divorced dad living on the left coast. His scenes are beyond expendable.

Paquin does fine, yet, at 24, she's long-in-the-tooth to be believable as a 17 year old (at first glance she appears passable as a college junior). There are fireworks between Lisa and her mother, an excellent J. Smith-Cameron. However, they become shrill and muddied through repetition.

This script was in process for many years (and exhibits the associated constipation).

There's an unspoken trust between filmmaker and audience. The expectation is the story has clarity and a through-line to reward we popcorn munchers in the dark. Mr. Lonergan broke the trust through reversal by expecting the audience to help him understand "Margaret." If this is where Lonergan is headed as a Director, authoring "Analyze The Other Thing" should be the next entry on his resume.

Reviewed by axapvov 5 / 10

Excessively ambitious teenager´s "moral gimnasium". Rich but questionable.

Over two hours of rights and wrongs... my personal experience is that I didn´t check my watch for about two hours and when the credits rolled I stayed put. It´s hypnotic how it sustains a relentless pace for that long. It´s many things at once: a moral dilemma, a growing process, a mother-daughter relationship... and more. Everything accumulates with a plausible chaos similar to real life nonsense. In that aspect the script seems to have been written on its own. Things happen and we react. That makes any off-putting scene easily forgivable because characters seriously come to life and reactions and interactions seem inevitable.

It focuses entirely on Lisa, a well-intentioned, educated, confused and pretentious teenager. The rest of an impressive cast only exist in relation to her and there are unexpected small parts played by big names that support this project´s epic ambitions. This is the first film I´ve seen that takes full advantage of Anna Paquin´s talent for over-acting. Her character is a turmoil of emotions and she doesn´t hold back. She´s often unfair, judgmental, self-centered and over-dramatic but those traits ring true to the character. Paquin shows her struggle to develop as a person, her will to do the right thing and be the best she can be. She makes her character believable and ultimately likable.

What I didn´t like were the dialogues, constantly using big words for the sake of it and over-explaining emotions. If Lisa was the only character to fall into that I´d be ok with it, but she´s not. That makes different characters seem deranged in the exact same way. Emily´s scenes lose a lot of credibility because of that. Then there´s the accident which inspires the whole "moral gimnasium". It isn´t intricate enough to sustain the epic conflict of interests it aims for. What we get is a whole lot of legal mumbo-jumbo. It´s unbalanced the way it insists on some points while leaving others almost untouched. Lisa´s guilt should have been explored further since she had such a big part on the accident. I´m guessing the film suffered enormously from the nightmarish editing process I only learned about later. The chaos kind of gets out of control at some point and the epic it looks for gets lost, absurd, even. I can understand how it was supposed to be an even longer film but I don´t see how including details about her abortion would have improved upon the dilemma.

Again, lots of rights and wrongs, it depends which part you choose to stay with. It´s a pitty because the ending is effective and the overall experience is rich, despite its many flaws.

Reviewed by sharky_55 7 / 10

I just want this prick to suffer.

Between the end of principal photography and a final, minuscule theatrical release hastily shoved out of sight, two of Margaret's producers actually passed away. That's how long Kenneth Lonergan's sophomore effort languished in post-production hell. It's not hard to spot the half-decade anachronisms when they surface. The New York of 2005's Margaret is thick with post-9/11 malaise, where everyday anxieties become magnified in the wake of tragedy, and in which throwaway comments conjure a whirlwind of spiteful accusations, finger pointing and immediate partisan defences. Yet even with the sharp performances of Lisa's politically-inclined classmates, and the refreshing change of pace to see high schoolers not solely depicted as listless, disengaged drones, the moment has passed. These fiery exchanges seem like a relic of an angrier, younger political climate, America's zit-covered freshman picture that you cover up out of embarrassment.

Anna Paquin plays Lisa Cohen (in a role similar to hers in Spike Lee's 25th Hour, which captures the aforementioned mood more effectively), a playful, privileged student on the Upper West Side, at least until a fatal accident thrusts her moral conscience into vertigo. Seeing the sheer confidence of tone in the opening half-hour makes you mourn for the mess that follows; barely minutes into the film, Margaret is skipping along the street until a chance encounter with a bus driver leads to a pedestrian being struck. The handheld camera jerks up towards the sky and then is suddenly still, we see and hear the visceral crunch of the victim's groceries, and then a woman is dead. The cinematography, which gives the appearance of grainy camcorder footage, assists, using available light to create believable grit. Lisa, being the teenager she is, returns home covered in blood, flippantly replies to her little brother's query, and only then unloads in the bathroom. Lonergan uses slow motion and compressed, telephoto shots to show a girl mute to the rest of the world, walking several blocks in the blink of an eye. And he positions the camera overhead (suggesting a voyeuristic surveillance) as she fends off the advances of her best friend in a cafe. But that's the least of her worries; you can barely hear their dialogue, the soundtrack gradually building a mass of nonsense and noise in the back of her mind.

About half of the rest of Margaret documents the self-righteous entitlement of a teenager who witnesses a tragedy and, consumed by the guilt of her involvement, embarks on a quest to right wrongs and reveals truths. When the camera focuses on the agony and desperate etched on Paquin's face, and the lengths she will go to in order to assuage her own conscience, the film excels. She attacks each scene with the youthful ferocity of someone who believes she understands who she is, but fashions a role for herself that masks vanity for doing the right thing. Her delivery is almost always breathless, conviction weaved through her words but breaking down from the inside. Paquin is capable of anything - ask her to lose her virginity to the greasy stoner classmate, and she'll do it (a piercingly accurate first time sex scene, consisting mostly of fumbling, darkness and embarrassment). Ask her to seduce her well-meaning but naive teacher with the mock confidence of an adult putting the moves on in a bar, and she'll do it. Watch her wield cigarettes as a weapon to mark her independence to the world.

But despite her brilliance, there's hardly any consistency or continuity between these two trysts, with large swathes of the film devoted to secondary characterisation that brushes and hints at developments that never arrive. There's an 'intervention' of sorts staged by the drama teacher which doubles as an acting exercise, with techie Lisa unleashing a torrent of tears for her fractured relationship with best friend turned ardent admirer (who then inexplicably disappears for the rest of the film). Lonergan himself plays the quiet, unassuming father a million miles away in California. His monthly long distance calls have the cadence and personality of one of his riveting business meetings, and you can see a streak of obligation in the way he closes out these conversations. One exquisitely timed sequenced sees his partner walk in and interrupt one of their calls, and the hassle that cascades from this conflict leads to the entire trip being cancelled. Lisa will be mournful and despondent one moment, and giggling in Central Park the next. Teenagers may be remarkably unpredictable, but Lonergan can't marry these sequences together with any conviction. They seem like two separate movies altogether, merged by vague contemplations via muted cityscapes in wide shot.

The film aims to expose Lisa's phony, operatic crusade as nothing more than an immature brat shifting the centre of the universe in alignment with her conscience, but the main problem is that this spills out elsewhere. Each character exists in Lonergan's cinematic world, where strangers caught up in emotional crises run their mouths and spit each carefully cultivated word of his script without so much as a stutter. Every lecture directed at Lisa from the older, matured figures of Emily and Joan may be true, but the conversations become shrill and facile because of the way the dialogue is written, with Lonergan being unnecessarily wordy or unable to smuggle his thematic intents more effectively. Even Paquin, who's prone to outbursts of faux intellect and moral superiority, can't reign these in. Compare that to the single allowance in Lonergan's debut (delivered by himself, naturally), and the depths of emotion he musters with tortured glances and clipped words in Manchester By the Sea. So the final flourish, a lurid, unapologetically melodramatic opera where mother and daughter openly weep, is made dull by all the weeping and moping beforehand. It's par on course for hysterics, instead of being a torrent of emotional catharsis.

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