Director: Kenneth Lonergan
Starring: Anna Paquin, Matt Damon, Mark Ruffalo
Margaret is a little bit of a messy film by Kenneth Lonergan (screenwriter of Gangs of New York) that comes with what is quite possibly one of the best performances I’ve ever seen by an actress. While Anna Paquin is brilliant in this film, there are many plot points that just don’t fit well into the movie, which is a shame, because if this film would have been a little bit better in its structure, it would have been something very special. In the end though, a performance even as good as Paquin’s, couldn’t save a film that was just trying to do too much.
The runtime for this film is listed at 150 minutes, and you can start to feel that length about halfway through the movie. I typically don’t have any problems watching lengthy films (I mean I’m a guy who somehow finds a way to watch the extended versions of the Lord of the Rings trilogy at least once a year), but Margaret seemed to be a film that didn’t quite know what it wanted to say.
The film is about the title character, Margaret (that’s Anna Paquin’s character), witnessing, and being a part of a tragic accident. She struggles to do make the right decisions as she deals with a traumatic experience. If this sounds like a depressing film, it is. Now, this could mean that the messy structure of the film is actually quite fitting for what this movie is about, because Margaret is a character that doesn’t know what she wants and doesn’t know what to do. One minute she seems smart and calm, and the next minute she’s a hysterical mess, and honestly… a pretty stupid girl. On the other hand, I could just be making an excuse for all of the scenes from this film that seemingly served no real purpose.
For instance, just about every scene that involved Matthew Broderick’s character didn’t really do much for me. Don’t get me wrong, the acting was fine, but the scenes could have been cut and the film wouldn’t have been much different.There were plenty of other things that I feel could have been cut from this film, or at least toned down in volume, that would have improved the pacing and made the film a little tighter (Margaret’s sexual explorations, the relationship between Margaret’s mother and a frenchman, maybe even the political issues that were being pushed into the movie could have been a little less loud).
In the end, I do feel that I have to give the film a strong recommendation, simply because of Paquin’s performance. It’s very refreshing to see her involved in something that isn’t a vampire soap opera that has gone to beyond the brink of stupidity (sorry True Blood fans. I had to take that shot. I still watch the damn show too though). But seriously, the job Paquin did with the role was absolutely astounding.
My Rating (of the movie): 2 out of 5
My Rating (of Paquin’s performance): 5 out of 5