Matt Damon, Anna Paquin, Jean Reno, Matthew Broderick, Mark Ruffalo, Allison Janney. A cast with two Oscar winners and an Oscar nominee, in a rarely-seen film you have probably never heard of, directed by an Oscar-nominated director and produced/executive-produced by three Oscar-winning producers.
That film is “Margaret”, which got an oh-so-brief theatrical release in the U.S. last September — barely a week on 14 screens in the entire country before bowing out quickly and quietly. The film made just over $46,000 in North America, according to Box Office Mojo. After October 27, 2011 “Margaret” had completely vanished from the theatrical landscape.
Aside from a prolonged (three-week long) run last year at the Cinema Village movie house in New York City and a one-week run in late January at the Cinefamily in Los Angeles, “Margaret”, a Fox Searchlight Pictures release, has been all but left for dead.
If, however, you are in San Francisco you may have noticed that “Margaret” has been playing in town since last Friday at the San Francisco Film Society Cinema, in a return one-week engagement (it played there for seven days last October). Thursday will be the last day to see “Margaret” in San Francisco before she, so to speak, leaves town.
The trials and tribulations of Kenneth Lonergan’s second feature film have been well-documented, and won’t be rehashed here. Mr. Lonergan has had to keep mum about things as an ongoing lawsuit involving he and the mini-major studio centers around the film and other off-screen issues related to it. The legal issues have a lot to do with the very scant run “Margaret” has received.
“Margaret”, which Mr. Lonergan filmed in Manhattan in 2005, is a post-9/11/01 New York City fairy tale turned murky about Lisa, a 17-year-old (Anna Paquin) who contributes to a tragic bus accident. Lisa’s guilt leads her to an unquenchable thirst for justice against the bus driver. Along the way Lisa faces the reality that the world she believes in opposes the one she’s living in: one full of cynical, scheming and dishonest adults. Peripheral but key to “Margaret” are various intersecting stories of investigation and “controversy”, including Lisa’s volatile relationship with her mother (J. Smith-Cameron). So much is going on in this visceral film, where words cut shrill and deep.
Great films like “Pariah”, “I Will Follow” and “Mooz-lum” (the latter two live on DVD) need audience support, and “Margaret” certainly qualifies. A number of film critics on both the west and east coasts of the U.S. have hailed “Margaret” as the best film of 2011 or in the top ten on their end-of-year lists. Had I seen it last year, “Margaret” would also have made my ten best list of 2011.
At two and a half hours, “Margaret” sprawls yet plays more like a foreign-language or European film rather than the American film that it is. Challenging, powerful, compelling and thought-provoking, Mr. Lonergan’s epic drama boasts outstanding performances, especially from Ms. Paquin and Ms. Smith-Cameron.
If ever a film could benefit from a Demand It! campaign, it would be “Margaret”. Even if you are not in San Francisco, please look out for this film and find out where else in the country it is playing. Call your local multiplex and/or art-house theater and ask the theater’s owner or manager to play the film. I reviewed “Margaret” last week. You can read it here.
I’m hearing that “Margaret” will likely make some post-awards season theatrical runs in a few other U.S. cities beyond San Francisco. I will be following up soon with more on the case of the elusive, must-see “Margaret”.
For more of Omar’s film stories, movie reviews and interviews visit his Popcorn Reel website and watch his unscripted film reviews on YouTube. Follow him on Twitter.
For a list of Omar’s modenook.com stories and film reviews, click here. He’s been a contributing film critic for “Ebert Presents At The Movies” on PBS television and is a far flung correspondent for the preeminent film critic Roger Ebert and a member of the San Francisco Film Critics Circle.
Continue reading on modenook.com Movie review: ‘Margaret’ an excellent dissection of morals, adults post 9/11 NYC – San Francisco Indie Movie | modenook.com http://modenook.com/indie-movie-in-san-francisco/movie-review-margaret-an-excellent-dissection-of-morals-adults-post-9-11-nyc-review#ixzz1n2U8HloC