Fox Searchlight Pictures | Release Date: September 30, 2011
Generally favorable reviews based on 36 Ratings
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desppunFeb 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,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
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