Margaret is being released today on limited theaters and Many reviews are now out. Mixed reviews! And some stills.
Margaret, the long-awaited second film written and directed by Kenneth Lonergan (You Can Count on Me), has an offscreen history so fraught with drama it trumps anything in the movie. The tale of a ferociously precocious and high-strung Upper West Side Jewish girl, Lisa Cohen (Anna Paquin), who witnesses a tragic bus accident, the film was shot at the end of 2005. But Lonergan, contractually obligated to deliver a two-hour movie, fell in love with his three-hour version (so did Martin Scorsese, who is said to have called it a ”masterpiece”), and he refused to cut it. Six years and several lawsuits later, Fox Searchlight is releasing a two-and-a-half-hour version of Lonergan’s film, which has been on the shelf so long that Paquin still looks like a teenager, Matt Damon (as her geometry teacher) is still skinny, and at one point someone imitates Bobcat Goldthwait.
So was Margaret worth the wait? 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. Lisa fixates on the accident because she was flirting with the driver (Mark Ruffalo) when he ran a red light and killed a pedestrian. First she lies about what happened, then she changes her story in a fit of guilt and rage. She makes the accident about her, which is why she must learn that it wasn’t. The trouble is, it’s a lesson we grasp all too early on. Margaret may be the longest film ever made about the moral education of a selfish, annoying princess. B-
The trailer for Margaret is finally out, the movie starring Matt Damon, Anna Paquin, Mark Ruffalo, was filmed a few years ago and is being released in September 30.
A young woman (Paquin) witnesses a bus accident, and is caught up in the aftermath, where the question of whether or not it was intentional affects many people’s lives.
Screencaps (big thanks to Luciana from Mark Ruffalo Central)
There are volumes to be written about how “Margaret,” the follow-up drama to Kenneth Lonergan’s well-received “You Can Count on Me,” has been stuck in film-release purgatory since being shot in 2005. We’ll offer some of those details (like how costar Matt Damon once called studio executives imploring them to release the film) in future posts. In the meantime, the news Wednesday is that the movie is finally coming to theaters.
Fox Searchlight said that it will release the film on Sept. 30. The opening will be a limited one, said a spokeswoman, beginning in New York and Los Angeles and widening out from there. It remains to be seen how wide it actually goes, and how much marketing support is behind it.
The movie stars a (much younger) Anna Paquin dealing with the aftermath of an accident she’s witnessed. But the plot details are almost beside the point. The biggest drama may comes with the film itself. Boldface names galore were involved in a post-production tussle over both the content and its release, and whether the resulting movie turns out to be decent or the high-profile train wreck all the delays (and rumors) suggest could be as compelling as anything in the film. More to come in the next few days, but for now, the film world’s longest-held captive has indeed been set free.
This year, movies like Battle: Los Angeles, I Am Number Four, Hoodwinked 2 (did anyone even see the first one?), another Tyler Perry movie, Red Riding Hood, and the Justin Bieber documentary all easily made their way into theaters. Know what hasn’t come out this year (or the past couple) while films like Something Borrowed get their big studio pushes?
Kenneth Lonergan‘s follow-up to his brilliant debut, You Can Count on Me, has had a notoriously rough time making it to theaters, both due to legal issues and a dispute over final cut.
The film was shot almost six years ago. The editing process has been called a nightmare. Lonergan has a three-hour cut that Fox Searchlight isn’t too keen on releasing. Why? Because they won’t release a version over two hours long. Lonergan has final cut, which hasn’t made the situation any easier. Great talents such as Thelma Schoonmaker, Martin Scorsese, Scott Rudin, and Sydney Pollack did passes on the film to get it down to a shorter length.
And right now, Scorsese is doing another edit of the film with Lonergan.
I was lucky enough to speak with the movie’s co-star Mark Ruffalo yesterday for his directorial debut, Sympathy for Delicious, and of course, I had to ask about Margaret. Ruffalo described the three-hour cut he saw as a “masterpiece” and explained that “it’s a love letter to a post-9/11 America and New York City.”
You’d think a film of that possible caliber and with a cast including Matt Damon, Anna Paquin, Matthew Broderick, Jean Reno, Kieran Culkin, Olivia Thirlby, and Ruffalo would be a sure thing for awards season, but sadly, that’s been proven incorrect over the past few years. The reality that a bold talent like Lonergan has to fight this hard to get this film released is a truly sad commentary on commerce kicking art’s ass.
Here’s part of my exchange with Ruffalo on the status of Lonergan’s long-awaited film:
When will we actually be able to see Margaret?
Ruffalo: [Sighs] Oh, it’s so… I don’t know. Marty Scorsese has come on now to do a pass on it with Kenneth. It was a movie that started at 186 pages. It was just a very, very finely interwoven piece of material and it’s so beautiful. When he tried to cut it down, he had a very hard time. The studio was saying they wanted no more than two hours, and the rough cut I saw was a little bit over three hours long. It was absolutely incredible. It was beautiful, moving, and such a fine piece of work on so many levels. It was beautifully shot, beautifully acted, and the writing is incredible. It’s a love story to a post-9/11 America and New York City.
He couldn’t get it cut down. He had a really hard time. The studio, basically, said they weren’t going to release it. That’s where it’s been. It got tied up in lawsuits with Gary Gilbert, who tried to take the movie away and have someone else edit it behind Kenny’s back. It was a surreal, big, ugly thing. Now Kenny has got it and Marty is kinda arbitrating his cut. Hopefully, we’ll be seeing it soon.