Director: Kenneth Lonergan | 2007 | 150 minutes | USA | Cert: Club
Starring: Anna Paquin, Mark Ruffalo, J. Smith-Cameron, Matt Damon
They’re calling this the movie that never had a chance. Writer-director Kenneth Lonergan shot Margaret in 2005, but his struggles to achieve a final cut (with help from Martin Scorsese), plus contractual difficulties, delayed the release till late in 2011.
What a shame. Margaret, for all its flaws, is a film of rare beauty and shocking gravity. Anna Paquin, pre-True Blood, gives a stellar performance as Lisa Cohen. One day, Lisa walks alongside a bus whose driver (Mark Ruffalo) wears a hat she covets. Their flirting leads him to run a light and kill a pedestrian (Allison Janney), who lies bloody and broken in Lisa’s arms.
Margaret, a title taken from a Gerard Manley Hopkins poem, resonates with loss felt deeply by New Yorkers in the shadow of 9/11. For Lisa, it inspires a crusade to connect. She reaches out to the victim’s militant best friend (Jeannie Berlin in an award-caliber performance), then to a teacher (Matt Damon) who takes advantage, and then to a lawsuit that she hopes will bring the driver to justice. What Lisa can’t find is closure. Seek it out. You can thank me later. – Peter Travers / Rolling Stone Magazine
Read New York Times feature on Kenneth Lonergan’s “thwarted masterpiece”.
Read Kenneth Lonergan interview in The New Yorker.