Alex is a freelance writer, retail worker, short film maker, an avid lover of The Arts and always willing to explore.
Unlike my other reviews I have no witty remark or unsubtle pop culture reference in an opening liner to begin with. I walked out of the theatre dazed, almost shell shocked as to what I had just seen. As soon as I got home the only cure I knew was an aspirin and a marathon of Looney Tunes…wait.
The main character of Margaret is a 17-year-old New Yorker Lisa Cohen, who lives with her mother and brother in a small, but pleasant apartment. All is relatively normal for Lisa until she accidently distracts a bus driver, resulting in a middle aged woman being run over and killed as the bus storms through a red light. Lisa quickly runs to the rescue of the woman along with other passers by, however the woman eventually dies in Lisa's arms. As for the rest of the story, I could be here awhile and pretty much spoil the entire film if I went any further, so I'll leave it to unfold upon you, but I will tell you that what you are in for isn't great for a relaxing night out.
Margaret is a masterfully directed, unforgiving whirlwind of politics, sex, law, death, racism, love and life that holds no punches. Being someone who is rarely affected by film in this way, I can say that without a doubt this is one of the most emotionally draining, thought provoking cinematic roller coasters to hit screens since Requiem For A Dream. If I haven't scared you off yet, keep reading.
Aside from Kenneth Lonergan's outstanding direction and screenplay, what largely contributes to the film flying through it's two and a half hours is the perfectly selected ensemble cast. Anna Paquin, Matt Damon, Jean Reno and J. Smith-Cameron are the most shining examples of this, in which their mesmerizing sense of realism comes off as almost too real for comfort.
The only part of Margaret that I can honestly criticise is it's seemingly unnecessary use of slow motion shots. From memory there are only two occurrences of this and I understand that the film may be trying to portray some sort of deep and meaningful symbolism, but to me it appears that Lars von Trier walked on the set and sat his pretentious backside on it. However in great confliction, the cinematography throughout the film, especially in these scenes is quite simply gorgeous.
Overall Margaret is a gruelling but beautifully made tour de force. For those who can't handle hard hitting dramas, steer very clear; other wise this is an amazing film that you must see at least once, I say once because it may be very difficult to find the energy to see it again.
OFLC (Office of Film and Literature Classification) rating: