Generally favorable reviews - based on 27 Critics What's this?

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Generally favorable reviews- based on 26 Ratings

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  • Summary: Margaret centers on a 17-year-old New York City high-school student who feels certain that she inadvertently played a role in a traffic accident that has claimed a woman's life. In her attempts to set things right she meets with opposition at every step. Torn apart with frustration, she begins emotionally brutalizing her family, her friends, her teachers, and most of all, herself. She has been confronted quite unexpectedly with a basic truth: that her youthful ideals are on a collision course against the realities and compromises of the adult world. (Fox Searchlight Pictures)

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 15 out of 27
  2. Negative: 1 out of 27
  1. Reviewed by: Ann Hornaday
    Apr 26, 2012
    Ambitious, affecting, unwieldy and haunting, it's an eccentric, densely atmospheric, morally hyper-aware masterpiece that refuses to follow the strictures of conventional cinematic structure, instead leading the audience on a circuitous journey down the myriad rabbit holes that comprise modern-day Manhattan.
  2. Reviewed by: Wesley Morris
    Oct 6, 2011
    Who knows what movie Lonergan was searching for in all that footage? But what emerges from the tinkering and legal skirmishes is an occasional marvel, a kind of everyday highbrow social X-ray, Paul Mazursky by way of Krzysztof Kieslowski.
  3. Reviewed by: Elizabeth Weitzman
    Sep 30, 2011
    Margaret - titled after a poem - reflects its adolescent subject with striking accuracy. It can be frustrating and self-important, clumsy and naive. But it's also passionate, curious and filled with insight, so unafraid in its ambitions that even the flaws are interesting. Every bold vision requires respect; a few deserve celebration. This is one of them, imperfections and all.
  4. Reviewed by: Owen Gleiberman
    Sep 28, 2011
    Lonergan's dialogue can sweep you up in a whoosh of personality and ideas, but it's hard to see what, apart from ego, convinced him that this story was so epic.
  5. 50
    Kenneth Lonergan's new film, Margaret, finally released six years after it was shot, now seems destined to become part of film history as one of the more stunning examples of a filmmaker's sophomore slump.
  6. Reviewed by: A.O. Scott
    Sep 29, 2011
    To watch the long, painful last hour of this movie is to watch all of his good ideas and smart impulses collapse into a heap of half-written, awkwardly acted, increasingly frantic scenes.
  7. Reviewed by: Andrew O'Hehir
    Sep 29, 2011
    Rarely has a film with such a great cast and so many moments of terrific writing and such high dramatic goals been so messy and disorganized and fundamentally bad.

See all 27 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 7 out of 9
  2. Negative: 1 out of 9
  1. Feb 25, 2012
    Although the film is long, it is not too long. I would be ready to see it again a week after my first viewing. The characters and situations are true to life, that is, painful and messy. The ellipsis at the end of many scenes, in which the scene seems to be cut short, was puzzling at first but contributed to the emotional power of the movie. The actors who played Margaret, her mother, and the dead woman's friend were terrific. I could really relate to everything in this film even though I have never been in any similar situation. Expand
  2. Sep 20, 2012
    A film of true gravitas. The acting is amazing and the script often spot-on. Not only is the main drama fascinating, but there is also coverage of issues like single motherhood and self-acceptance. Best film I saw in a long time. I may have given it a ten if it was a bit shorter, as there are some sidetrips that hurt the focus and do not yield the insight of the segments dealing with the main drama. Expand
  3. Dec 3, 2012
    I wish more movies were like this. Having seen Margaret in it's intended 3hr Director's Cut it's difficult thing to comment here on this, the shorter cut of the film. I immediately fell in love with Margaret from the get-go. It's really a simple story: a girl witnesses/causes a fatal accident and the rest of the film is about how she deals with it. So many times watching film and television I've longed for more reality; what really happens to a person after they go through a traumatic event? Anna Paquin portrays the confusion and fracture with a raw power; she's a time-bomb. All the performances are excellent, with J. Smith-Cameron and Jeannie Berlin filling the other main roles, with wonderful actors popping up everywhere in support (Matt Damon, Olivia Thrilby, Jean Reno, Keiran Culkin, Mark Ruffalo, Rosemarie DeWitt and Allison Janney in a small but incredible performance). It's about a search for meaning, for redemption and as much about the differences and failings and needs and desires that define every one of us. And it is glorious. Expand
  4. Aug 23, 2012
    Another well written movie with great multilayered characters by Lonergan. A great premise that sends the protagonist into a whirlwind of emotion that doesn't stop though the film's two and a half hours. I feel this film falls short in the same way that You Can Count On Me did. For me Lonergan never seems to be able to find a way to end his protagonists journey. Both movies ended on a less than satisfying note. I do not always need the neat and tidy Hollywood ending, however an obvious end to the story or an obvious open ended ending to take a movie from good to great. Expand
  5. May 29, 2013
    2h30mns seem quite long but in this case it flows thanks to the unexpected emotional journey the main character goes through from the main event. It felt real and powerful. Expand
  6. Jun 1, 2012
    Superb acting by the principals, especially Anna Paquin. Unlikely scenarios and story, though. The protagonist is not a very likeable character and one has a difficult time identifying with her problems. Expand
  7. Feb 6, 2012
    The more you enjoyed Lonergans first film, the more you should be preparing yourself for a massive disappointment. For the record: Lonergan is a great writer, with a great talent; and for all his stilted, play-acting dialogue and characters, theres a real humanity and depth to his work. Its much, much appreciated. However, thats a discussion for You Can Count On Me. Because theres no room for it here. Anyway, its not that often I see a movie, in theaters, that looks like a very early, messy rough cut of something that could of been possibly much better, or even great (e.g. Melancholia). Margaret is a mistake, and the only thing more embarrassing than for the filmmaker to have this on his hands is the fact of how simply obvious it would have been (and still is!) to amend nearly all of its mistakes. These mistakes are mostly large, clumpy structural attempts to branch off, with sub-plots, or mini-scenes, into the perceptions and experiences of secondary characters, to get a taste of how they operate, or to see what theyre going though parallel to the main characters journey. However, it isnt always just a head-shakingly maudlin checker-boarding of scenes; it can also be as minute and simple as a quick comparison of thoughts or screams. This is a selfish juxtaposition issue that rears its head at EVERY opportunity. In fact, there should be an Ebert-ism regarding this: a director, after a first decent hit (or maybe two), now allows his unbridled ego full and entire authority over all his creative consciousness, to the extent that he wants to say this and this and this and this, etc. Ad nauseam. Its nothing but a complete loss of focus, allowing useless, extraneous information to barge in as it pleases. How many movies can you fit into one? And how long can you deceive yourself into believing that all of these themes, these situations and characters connect in an honest and emotionally engaging way? A film is not a 1,000-page novel, it never will be. Less will always be more, and the secret to success will always be those infinite suggestions held within every frame. Two-and-a-half hours of loud talk is not the answer. I bet the average person, including myself, could step into this and remove at LEAST 40 minutes of footage. Just cut every time you see something boring, every time you instinctively know that what youre watching amounts to next to nothing in the grand scheme of the picture. Every time you know youre seeing-not experiencing-something that youll forget five minutes after its occurred. Besides killing the flow of the main conflict at every opportunity, there are also some new, quirky, New-Yorky aesthetics Lonergan tries to arbitrarily incorporate into the picture; such as odd, extended zooms; slow-motion with often-times bad complimentary score; ironic, disgustingly self-aware cuts concluding scene after scene with a strange line or action of a character, implicitly expecting the audience to bowl over with ironic, disgustingly self-aware laughter; and even more self-aware camera angles, designed to make you believe that what you are seeing is just TOO INTENSE for a normal shot. And the film actually uses opera, multiple times, for dramatic effect. (Basically, if youre not a privileged, college-level graduate you arent allowed to participate in the fun.) Theres also the main, underlying theme to this film that, I felt, was entirely naive and general. It seems to want to take to the podium every time theres a classroom discussion scene -- as though by having young adults tackling major issues, the topical blow isnt quite so severe. What happens specifically is: everybody sits around and argues for about five minutes regarding their own personal views on America and the rest of the world -- terrorism, bombing of women and children, blah blah blah. And then, at the very height of it all, the scene just abruptly ends, and the subject promptly disappears for a while. How irritating. Almost cowardly. Its as though Lonergan read in his old, misplaced college textbook on film: movies are for raising questions, not answering them. He really took that to heart. Expand

See all 9 User Reviews


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