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This is not in HD even if you deliberately and specifically select HD. Buyer beware. Bought this wanting an HD version of Lonergan's great motion picture. But this is a scan of the same SD extended version available on DVD as an extra when you buy the Blu Ray. I guess that's why the extended cut is listed cheaper than the theatrical cut - it's all 480p. At least warn us before you take our money, Bezos.
I normally like tightly structured movies in which each storyline ends with some kind of resolution. This movie doesn't entirely do that... but it also doesn't ignore the convention entirely. The main storyline does indeed resolve in a satisfying way (at least it satisfied me) but the interwoven storylines don't really. They kind of get woven in for a bit, and then are allowed to flow back out of the story, unresolved but still affecting. The result would be frustrating (and surely is, for many viewers) unless you are able to experience it as genuine reflection of the messy, frustrating and unfair... but still hopeful experience of life. I found Lonnergan's portrayal of a young girl - a not particularly likable one, certainly - to be uncannily insightful and unflinching. It is infused with a deep, sincere interest that is perhaps synonymous with love. If you have, or ever have been, a self-absorbed, self-righteous, confused, angry, guilty, lonely, delusional adolescent girl, or if you've ever felt lost in an incomprehensible moral universe, this movie will stay with you long after the credits have rolled.
Reviewed in the United States on September 4, 2014
This is a heavily promoted indie film that never made it. It is the story of a struggling young lady in NYC. Her parents are divorced and self-absorbed, if loving and occasionally there for her. She is beautiful, intelligent, and questioning, appropriate to her age. Then, a trivial incident leads to a tragedy for which she feels responsible. The rest of the movie - nearly 3 hours in the extended version, which is what I am reviewing here - is how she deals with it, thinking in turn and then acting out. At turns, it is moving, brutal, sad, funny, uplifting, pathetic, and promising; the other characters emerge and form a portrait of the Manhattan middle class.
I wish I could say I found it as masterful and brilliant as many critics have done, but I thought it disjointed, abrupt, full of trivia and incidents that appear meaningless or ill-fitting. In most cases, it distracted rather than added to some vision or whole. The film technique - to include random conversations or expressions - felt intrusive to me, irritating.
Nonetheless, the acting is truly wonderful. Paquin creates a realistic, indeed brilliant, portrait of the girl - I completely believed how she grew and evolved as the crisis unfolded. And she does transform herself, to a degree, though in so many ways, she is still a girl. Most of the other actors appear in cameos, often to make some point, which works about half of the time, but also often fails.
I would recommend this film. The ambiguities and lack of simple clarity are truly artful. But it is flawed.
Reviewed in the United States on September 29, 2019
I loved "You Can Count on Me" and "Manchester By the Sea," so I was expecting something really good here. Instead, we get bratty Lisa who appears to be in her late 20s but is supposed to be 17. Lonergan has a dream cast here but they are thwarted by lots of bad dialogue and pointless plot points. They spend a lot of time trying to build up drama over an out-of-court legal settlement with boring legal points. The whole thing was just awful, honestly.
A film as untidy as life. I will sum up my reaction to this film by saying, if you appreciate John Cassavetes' approach to film, I think this will do it for you. The thing I suspect many one-star reviewers are reacting against is the demands of a genuinely realistic, honest film; the toll on you if you drop your defenses and meet it on its own terms is far from universally welcome. Some comments suggest to me that watching too much series TV builds in a reflex to fit everything into a track we know, to the extent that we read predictability or formula where it does not exist.
Reviewed in the United States on December 13, 2013
I saw Kenneth Lonergan's second film Margaret in New York City with a friend of mine at a small indie theater in January, 2012 and I was beyond surprised by it. It's very rare these days that I see a current film that is so powerful and haunting that I don't know what to make of it or how to take it in. Lonergan made the film in 2005 and it was scheduled to be released in 2007 but because of post production problems which resulted in a few lawsuits, it finally saw a small release in 2011 with very few theaters showing it. If things had worked out differently, this could have been a huge contender during award season. A film that deals with so many heavy themes and one that's very emotionally intense, I honestly don't know how to recommend this to someone. Not since Barry Lyndon (1975) have I seen something that has moved me this much. Anna Paquin has never been better than she is here. The performances are very real and the dialogue so authentic that it's overwhelming. Although it does have a few notable flaws, this is the best cinematic art of the past couple of years in my book and Lonergan being the most under appreciated contemporary director. Keep in mind that his preferred cut runs at over 3 hours long and just like the works of Stanley Kubrick, it does take its time.
Reviewed in the United States on February 19, 2017
This movie has so many great things about it that I was completely under its spell. There was nothing to dissect or analyze because the films world was so well laid out, that there was never a burning need to question. I didn't feel any sense of fragmentation that other people have mentioned in their reviews. It's a great film and will stand the test of time. I thought particularly the sound editing was some of the most creative and energizing I have ever heard. Very effective mixes where we sometimes hear extraneous conversations that pepper and nest the main conversations in an interesting, relevant and vitalizing way. Reminded me of Altman's exploration of audio in the operating room scenes in Mash. This is a movie where everything means something. Nothing is done just for its own sake. This film is driven by a unifying vision. Wow. What a movie!
It didn't take too long for me to understand that many will call this film too long. Which I can understand. What I didn't feel I understood were parts of the film (am I lacking in sophistication?), though my conclusion to the whole experience was that I'd seen a very interesting and intelligent creation which I found intensely absorbing - and just right, with all its intricacies and passion and frustrations,, for the state of mind I was in when I chose to start viewing it, having never heard of it before yesterday. For me it's a kind of 'all life is here' film. All imperfections certainly. Sure, some further editing might have happened; but I appreciated it for its length and attention to detail anyway. Very good indeed, in short, and off the back of it I would recommend the Three Colours trilogy.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 19, 2016
Please be aware that there are potential spoilers in this review about the ending of the film.
Margaret seems like a film that has had a great deal of care taken in the making of it. For example, whereas in many films, a typical phone conversation would be shown in an almost clinical way – every syllable of every word from both parties being heard. In Margaret we are given the phone conversation with the kind of distractions we all get from time to time (in this case someone playing a piano in the next room) and it gives an air of realism to the film. Margaret is a film that is not rushed, perhaps even being a little too slow at times with lingering shots of sky-lines or slowly capturing the ambience of all the diners in a restaurant. It is though a well-made film with competent performances from the cast and with much care on the technical side of the film with filming, lighting, direction, music etc.
So the reason for the three starts? Well the main character spending the whole film shouting – shouting at her mother, her fellow students, at new acquaintances, at just about everyone she comes into contact with. There is much more to the film than her shouting but that is the lasting memory (real or perceived) that I have. That and the clichéd Hollywood style closing scene has left me with no desire to spend another three hours watching and listening to her again.
I wouldn’t discourage anyone from watching Margaret, as it is generally a well made film but maybe just one that is not to my taste.
On the DVD you get:
Margaret (extended cut) Set Up: Audio English Dolby digital 5.1 Subtitles: (Optional) English for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. Scene Selection
this is the best movie for mother/daughter or family drama with amazing story, script and actors! it's a real gem!!! kenneth lonergan is the award winning writer of Manchester by the Sea. but I think this far succeeds that! he also has a play in the west end called 'the starry messenger' playing right now, august 2019. it's terrific value as well!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 28, 2019
Margaret, here in the extended version, stands out as one of the most interesting post millennium movies. Kenneth Lonergan captures the restless ego of Lisa (and the people surrounding her) in a way that few directors have come close to. Talking about “coming of age” movies, Margaret has few, if any, serious contenders.
I bough this DVD recently because according o some reviews was a good thriller, sorry to say for me was very slow, boring I stopped watching half way. Is also difficult to understand because it goes on slow motion all the time. For me it was a waste of money and time.