Generally favorable reviews - based on 32 Critics What's this?

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Generally favorable reviews- based on 27 Ratings

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Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 27 out of 32
  2. Negative: 1 out of 32
  1. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    May 23, 2013
    Who would have thought that one of the most provocative and affecting films made about the fallout from 21st century divorce would have emanated from a 19th century novel?
  2. Reviewed by: Betsy Sharkey
    May 16, 2013
    This is a beautifully rendered film.
  3. Reviewed by: Peter Rainer
    May 3, 2013
    The film stands quite well on its own. The directors have made the right, essential decision to make the movie almost entirely from Maisie’s point of view.
  4. Reviewed by: Andrew O'Hehir
    Jun 12, 2013
    It’s probably best to approach Scott McGehee and David Siegel’s intimate, unnerving and entirely addictive drama What Maisie Knew by not leaning too hard on its Henry James source material.
  5. Reviewed by: Sheila O'Malley
    Jun 11, 2013
    Some of the twists the film takes, particularly in its final third, strain the powers of belief, but the ending, thankfully, does not soft-pedal all that came before.
  6. Reviewed by: Barbara VanDenburgh
    May 23, 2013
    The film wraps up too neatly to be believed, not leaving questions unanswered so much as failing to ask them.
  7. Reviewed by: Chris Cabin
    Apr 27, 2013
    David Siegel and Scott McGehee's film renders the rhapsodic Henry James novel of the same name into an abhorrent slice of tasteless familial drama.

See all 32 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 7 out of 7
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 7
  3. Negative: 0 out of 7
  1. Nov 9, 2013
    Onata Aprile (Maisie) kills it in this movie! Rock solid performance. She outshines Julianne Moore in this movie about divorce and child custody. This is a must see for anyone out there! Collapse
  2. May 16, 2013
    This movie is a little gem. I read the New York Times review that said it was "Brilliant" or whatever, and I don't know if I'd go that far, but it's definitely the best movie about divorce and child custody I've ever seen, and it's nothing like Kramer vs. Kramer. It's actually really sweet and real feeling, mostly because you really identify with the little girl Maisie. All the adult actors are great, and sometimes funny (Steve Coogan), but I especially loved Alexander Skarsgard. He seems like a loser when you first see him, but he ends up being super loving, and his scenes with Maisie are really fun to watch. Haters are going to hate, but I think anyone would relate to this film about parents, kids, and finding people to love. Expand
  3. Jul 27, 2013
    This is a wonderful film with fantastic performances. This film will use up all of your emotions one moment your angry, another your sad, and even another you maybe happy that Maisie have some people who know what responsibility is and a sense of stability. Julianne Moore plays a supposed mother who is down right loathsome she may love her child, but she should not be having them. Steve Coogen plays a father who acts like he cares, but is barely around. My favorite character in the film except for the young girl is Lincoln played by Alexander Skarsgard who shows that real love can come from the strangest places. This film however belongs to young Onata Aprile who is pitch perfect as Maize. One of the best movies of the year so far. A Expand
  4. Jun 15, 2013
    this is as heart wrenching as they come. You will want to cry out loud for little Maisie, as her parents say the love her but after their divorce seem never to have time for the child and then, your heart will fill with joy as you finds love with two strangers. The acting first rate and the direction is fantastic.
    the movies message is clear, just because you shower you children with hugs and kisses and five the presents does not mean you love them. You most be there for them every step of the of the way. When Maisies's mother sais to her you know I love you right?" The child's hear breaking expression tells the whole story. I hope at Oscar time this movie is remembered. This is my favorite movie so far this year. This a gem.
  5. Aug 5, 2013
    Indie director duo McGehee & Siegel has harvested great word-of-mouth and critic appraise for their second feature THE DEEP END (2001, 8/10), although the consecutive spelling bee drama BEE SEASON (2005, 5/10) is a fiasco and after a low-key romance-drama UNCERTAINTY (2009), their fifth collaboration is WHAT MAISIE KNEW, a modern-day custody battle in NYC transposed from Henry James’ 1887 novel of the same title.

    Maisie is a beautiful schoolgirl, mom is a rock singer and dad is an art work broker, their bourgeois life has plummeted into chaos when her parents facing an ugly divorce, the contest for her custody introduces Maisie a stepmom and a stepdad, whom Maisie grows close with thanks to the regular negligence of her biological parents.

    The film valiantly fixates its camera from Maisie’s angle, she is the reticent victim of the aftermath caused by her parents’ failure to co-exist under the same roof, through her ethereal princess adorableness, the film is ample with aesthetically stunning shots, NYC has never been so unworldly intimate and hauntingly dreamlike, all the more precious, McGehee and Siegel unflaggingly refuses to betray any speck of sentimentality and melancholia, as awful as the situations are, there is no tear-jerking awkwardness, instead, a less-disturbed recording of the hustle and bustle is capable of invoking much more inner ripple effects and self-reflection.

    Onata Aprile as Maisie, has been elicited great onscreen glamour through her innocuous postures, she is no crybaby, no temper tantrum either, a dainty soul evolves far maturer than she should have. Moore and Coogan as the biological parents, are the negative examples of parenting, Moore renders a spot-on mimicry in her rockstar garments and delivers an overpowering rancor out of her character’s unlovable carapace while Coogan, sheds his comic burden, is less flamboyant but more cunning than he appears.

    Skarsgård and Vanderham, as the young surrogate caretakers of Maisie, the former downplays his masculinity and feels shortchanged as a toy-boy-bartender, the latter is such a boon to the film, Vanderham vibrantly offer her second fiddle role with great emotional ups-and-downs, as her film debut, she should on the list of young talent to watch.

    A no-guts-no-glory slant on familial dysfunction on parenting, a moral tale to forewarn those adults who think they can, but are not wise enough to proffer a healthy environment for their children, who supplant devoted love with self-centered egoism and play the under-appreciated one to earn others’ sympathy. What Maisie knew? She knows when adults are lying to her, she knows how to be the grateful to the kindhearted, she knows how to love her parents in spite of their respective imperfection, Maisie knows too much about the despicable world, but she is also a lucky girl, she has found something which is untainted and someone who will cherish her wholeheartedly. The film is an indie gem and attests McGehee and Siegel’s faculty in film-making should not be overlooked.
  6. Sep 6, 2013
    This little gem is totally engrossing telling the story of a young girl suffering the fall out from her parents messy divorce. The performances are all good, but I have to single out Alexander Skarsgard. His hesitant but caring character is so unlike anything else he has done, and you are rooting for him to become romantically involved with Joanna Vanderham from there first meeting. The screenplay is for the most part good, but I do feel that Julianne Moore's part is written (and played so broadly that her character is in danger of being turned into a 'bad mum' caricature. This also has the unfortunate side effect of making Skarsgard and Vanderham's characters almost too saintly. Another slightly baffling thing in the story (unless I missed something) is how did Skarsgard and Moore know Where Vanderham and the little girl were when they moved to the beach house. Still, I'm being picky as this is one of the better films of the year so far. Onata Aprile as Maisie is perfect lacking any of the precociousness often found in child performances. Expand
  7. Aug 18, 2013
    One of my favorite movies of the year, I remember buying the book for my friend and I was amazed that it was on dvd so I though I had to try it and wow was it worth my money.I can relate to this movie,but the actors nailed it. Expand