Sunday, June 16, 2013

"What Maisie Knew"

"What Maisie Knew," directed by Scott McGehee and David Siegel, is a contemporary adaptation of the 1897 Henry James novel. Instead of the British Gilded Age, the film is set mostly in the Soho section of Manhattan, where the marriage between Susanna (Julianne Moore), a foul-mouthed, aging rock singer, and Beale (Steve Coogan), an international art dealer who neglects his family, has fallen apart. While both profess their love for their 6-year-old daughter Maisie (Onata Aprile, in an outstanding performance), neither is mature enough for parenthood, and Maisie is kept awake by their nightly, bitter arguments. The father takes up with the family's nanny Margo (Joanna Vanderham) and the mother with a bartender (Alexander SkarsgÄrd), both of whom eventually become surrogate parents for the child, and give her a measure of stability. Exactly what will be Maisie's familial situation in the future, however, is up to question. The adorable Maisie observes the turmoil with wide-eyes. Yet she seems well-adjusted in school, never throws a tantrum and never acts out, despite the fact that she has been brought up in a completely unstable home. One feels for Maisie, yet she has a sprightliness and aplomb that are unrealistic given her situation. The viewer is left wondering exactly what Maisie knew.

1 comment:

Michael The Molar Maven said...

Excellent review of a thoroughly enjoyable film. I won't say more for fear of giving too much away.