Kenneth Lonergan’s Margaret has lived in purgatory for six years. The film, which is written and directed by Lonergan, who’s past writing credits include Analyze This and Gangs of New York, and who’s last directing foray was 2000’s intimate and critically praised You Can Count on Me, a film that was nominated for an Oscar and won the Sundance Grand Jury Prize. After such an acclaimed directorial debut, hopes were high for Margaret, which was shot in 2005. The film stars a pre-Trueblood Anna Paquin, Mark Ruffalo, Matt Damon, and Matthew Broderick, and includes a brief, but scene-stealing appearance by Allison Janney. Even though filming took place six years ago, the film, produced by Fox Searchlight, has experienced massive delays in terms of actual release, and only hit screens in December of 2011 (the time lapse is most obvious in Matt Damon, who’s skinny appearance is more reminiscent of his Good Will Hunting days than his macho turn in the Bourne series). It seems that the delays were due largely to Lonergan’s insistence that the film be screened at a run time lasting about three hours. Fox Searchlight countered by stipulating that it clock in at no more than 150 minutes, which is the current timing for the movie. Lonergan maintained that the extended edition of the film, which was edited by film legend Martin Scorsese himself, who reportedly referred to the extended film as “a masterpiece”, was the superlative version, and should therefore be shown to audiences.
Though a very long time in coming, the much-anticipated Margaret very recently made brief runs in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago, greeting packed houses wherever it went. The film centers around Paquin’s character, Lisa, who’s plucky attitude is turned upside down after she inadvertently causes a bus driven by Ruffalo, to run a red light and kill a pedestrian (Janney). Lisa then must deal with the repercussions of the accident, and finds various ways to cope with her guilt, all while grappling with whether or not to out the driver for his carelessness. The film overall presents a stunning and sensitive portrayal of the grieving process, and the ripple effect that a shocking tragedy can have on those involved. Even given it’s limited screening and release date dramatics, high profile film media outlets have hailed the film as note worthy, with Indiewire and Entertainment Weekly even going so far as to question why the film was not honored with an Oscar nod.
Check out the trailer for Margaret below, and look out for a screening of this hidden gem, or possibly even the extended Scorsese cut, at an (arthouse) theater near you