After garnering widespread praise (and an Oscar nomination for screenwriting) for his 2000 directorial debut You Can Count on Me, Kenneth Lonergan was in-demand. In September 2005, the writer/director began production on a follow-up feature: Margaret, which touted Anna Paquin, Matt Damon, Mark Ruffalo, Matthew Broderick, Allison Janney, as well as legendary filmmakers Sydney Pollack and Anthony Minghella (The English Patient) as producers. The movie wrapped production in a few months time. The buzz was already growing.
Now, six years later, the movie is finally hitting theaters. So what took so long?
The journey to this point hasn't been an easy one and it shows. If a film's shot footage is a block of granite and the editing process is the careful carving that turns it into a statuesque work of art, Margaret feels like it was attacked by a blind man with a jackhammer. The film is a cinematic disaster, a mishmash of shallow characters, overwrought politics and sporadic tones. The story follows Lisa Coen (Paquin) a New York teenager who finds herself drowning in chaos after distracting a bus driver (Ruffalo), causing him to hit and kill a pedestrian (Janney). Initially, Lisa tells the police it was all an accident, but as time passes, regret takes hold and the girl embarks on a mission to take down the man she now regards as a culprit. That's just the tip of the iceberg-along the way, Lisa deals with everyday teen stuff: falling for her geometry teacher (Damon), combating her anxiety-ridden actress mother, losing her virginity, dabbling in drugs, debating 9/11 and the Iraq War, cultivating a relationship with her father in LA, and more. There are about eight seasons of television stuffed into Margaret, but even a two and a half hour run time can't make it all click.
For more on Margaret, check out Indie Seen: Margaret, the Long Lost Anna Paquin/Matt Damon Movie
Hollywood.com rated this film 2 stars.