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Showing 1-10 of 149 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 214 reviews
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.
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on February 20, 2015
One of about ten great movies that have been made this century. Margaret is a tale of a 17-year-old's grief; and a tale of the misplaced moral passion of an selfish teenager; and a tale of a broken mother-daughter relationship; and a tale of America's post-9/11 grief; and a story of New York, a city full of people every one of whom has their own story and doesn't care about yours. To that last point, there are at least 8 different characters in Margaret who are living breathing people with their own stories. It's been years since I've seen a movie this striking.

Watch only this 3 hour+ cut, which is the director's, and not the more common 2.5 hour cut, which he hated so much.
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on January 10, 2014
Like some of the other reviewers, I wish to focus on the difference between the two versions of the film, rather than offer a review of the film(s) itself. The former seems a more valuable undertaking, at this point.

The Theatrical Release (TR), which I saw in the cinema during its brief (and cosmically delayed) run, struck me as a film of enormous power. I expected that the Extended Cut (EC) would be an even greater picture, for it would rectify the only significant flaw I felt to be in the TR--namely, the abrupt and semi-arbitrary nature of some key scenes, particularly in the final third. These flaws I did not attribute to the extraordinarily gifted Lonergan, but to the seemingly draconian measures taken by his studio overseers in the production process.

What I encountered in recently watching the EC, however, was not the same film with additional scenes (though they were there), but a film with a much different feel. Still very impressive, to be sure, but not, for me, nearly so affecting. Others have commented on the significantly different soundtrack and scoring in the EC; and that, to me, is the core of the disparity between the two. The inclusion of background or secondary conversations and other incidental sounds in the EC is much more pronounced--overly so, in my view. Where their moderate use lends the TR a richness and a scope (a feel for New York, and even life itself, in all its density and variety), they become distracting and showy in the EC, breaking up the rhythm of the film and our ability to engage with the more central action and characters.

Even more noticeable is the difference in how the two films are scored. The TR contains a mix of well-known classical and opera music, as well as some incredible original work (I think) from the composer Nico Muhly. All of these pieces, as well as the timing and duration of their use, feel utterly perfect every time I watch the TR. They are instrumental, so to speak, in endowing the film with some of its great power. But--and others have focused on this as well--the scoring in the EC is vastly different. The original Muhly score, which fits (and creates) the moods of the TR so wonderfully, is altogether absent (I believe) from the EC. In its place is either no music, or classical pieces which do not, to my mind, seem to fit with what we are seeing or what we've been made to feel through the action. I imagine Lonergan must have felt this way himself, which is why he made the changes for the TR; but I don't know the reasons (presumably legal) why the EC had to "revert" to what I assume was a previous version of the scoring for the film. In any event, the film does change as a result, and not, I feel, for the better. When I watched it, I still admired it (the acting, writing, cinematography, etc...is still the same, still marvelous)--but music (or its lack) is a key aspect of any film, and only in the TR does it complement and elevate the other components in such beautiful ways.

My advice, if you have not seen either version, is to watch the TR first, then turn to the EC for some "informational" filling-in (courtesy of the added scenes) which will help add clarity to the TR. This may seem like bad advice. Why watch a version which lacks important moments in the narrative if the version that contains them is at hand? I think I can only answer that the first time you encounter this truly great film should be in its best flawed form: that which Lonergan managed to get into theaters. In the future, if we are lucky, there will be a Director's Cut--which will hopefully combine the best of the TR, the EC, and whatever may be missing from both.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon July 11, 2012
If you tried to watch this in movie theaters and then got a chance to watch it on DVD or streamed it instantly (as I did) you can compare the different versions. There is a DVD version for sale which includes scenes cut from the theatrical release.

This film review is based on the film's Instant View version of the film which seems to be the shorter version, clocking in at 2 and 1/2 hours.

Potential viewers should know that lawsuits delayed release of the movie and DVD due to disputes with the producer, the screenwrier, etc. Could a 3 hour movie be cut to 2 and 1/2 hours and would that affect the movie's integrity and flow?

Eventually, the movie was shortened, and (sadly) released in just two theaters.

This film is worth seeing by so many more people than those who made it to those 2 theatres. Yes, the film has its flaws. But it is also a complex and thought- provoking exploration of the consequences of life after witnessing a terrible accident and trying to grapple with doing the "right thing."

Here are some reasons to watch this movie and the serious questions and issues facing potential viewers:

Early on, a young woman, Lisa (played by Anna Paquin), witnesses a shocking tragedy, one where she feels involved and responsible (at least, in part). How would someone still evolving into adulthood face that? How would she react? This is a MAJOR focus of the movie and also one of the reasons people didn't like it. There is a lot of adolescent drama, often extended and intense. Some feel it goes on too long and stretches credibility.
I confess that I was one of those who had issues with Lisa's endless drama and attempts to contact others affected by the tragic accident and push their boundaries. Her actions are what another character labels as "strident", including Lisa's language, attitude, and inability to gauge the discomfort of those around her.

But the interview I heard with Kenneth Lonergan (who appears in the film along with his wife) gave me a new perspective. I went back and watched the film again.

And I rethought my first response and wondered: how would someone so young possibly react under the circumstances? How would a college student's identity and emergence into adulthood be affected? What would be the range of reactions? These questions gave me pause. Perhaps what seems grating and even obnoxious in Lisa - and could turn off viewers- makes sense after all. It did to me - on my second viewing.
Does the final scene at the opera, the point where films traditionally reach a resolution, mesh with all the events before then? I think it does, reflects Lisa's vulnerability. But I can see both sides of this.

I also hope you watch Mark Ruffalo's performance as a bus driver linked with pivotal events. He is an actor who doesn't always get enough attention because his performances seem understated. But he is superb in this movie.

I've left out so much. Please see this film.
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on April 16, 2014
This is a great story and a great film. (It converted Terry Gross of NPR's Fresh Air to an opera lover ... what else can I say?)

In the U.S. (unlike in much of the rest of the world), the "theatrical cut" is far more commonly available, especially on DVD (blu-ray isn't quite so difficult, although you still need to pay attention). Don't even bother with the "theatrical cut" though. Go directly to the "extended cut". Who would have thought a few minutes of additional footage and a remixed soundtrack would make so much difference? It's like two completely different movies!

Obtaining the "extended cut" on DVD (not blu-ray) is tricky. One of the best ways is this combo pack. File away the blu-ray disc, which contains only the "theatrical cut". What you want is the DVD disc, which contains the desired "extended cut".
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on July 29, 2012
I'm very happy that all the legal wrangling finally resolved, and that I got to see this. I've always considered film to be a branch of literature that is not always looked upon with the same critical eye we are so used to with books. For me, this film kicks it way up several notches in story, characters, actors, and filmography.

I found this film an amazing experience. Just for starters, to me, Kenneth Lonergan eye seems like my own--he shows us Manhattan on camera the way I see Manhattan as I walk about. I wonder if this is true for others. I found this camera work so accessible, and made me feel like I feel when I'm there going about my day. This may sound bland, but, it was remarkable that it felt like me being there taking in the city on any given day.

The story then vividly portrays the chaos and angst of adolescence, family life, sex, relationships, tragedy, parenting, and the inevitable confrontation of the world as it works and human idealism.

The cast was impeccable, Anna Paquin showed us a phenomenal display of craft, as did the rest.

I hope this film get's the recognition it deserves.

Thank you to Kenneth Lonergan for giving this gift. Remarkable!--Thank you!
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on October 28, 2013
Best seen in the extended version, which still leaves unanswered questions. Anna Paquin is completely compelling as the teenage daughter, not afraid to be unlikable. Jeannie Berlin is a clone of her mother Elaine May and gives a brilliantly lowkey intense performance. Alison Janney is marvelous in a brief but pivotal role. Mark Garofalo and Matt Damon take their apparently amoral character sketches and make them alive. Jean Reno, ever the fascinating outsider, is great as always (but one of my unanswered questions: "Why would he choose Riverside?" - you'll see). I know I saw a work of genius, but I found myself a bit mystified and perhaps dissatisfied.
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on May 11, 2017
Very interesting, especially for Lonergan fans. Manchester was excellent. I think "You Can Count On Me" is his best film.
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on August 21, 2014
Possibly one of my top films of all time, but certainly my wife and I agreed this was one of the most powerful films we've seen in a very long time; you must see the FULL version (3+ hours), as there was not a single throw-away scene. Everything about the film was so REAL; caution: the opening scene of the traffic accident is startlingly horrific.
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on March 12, 2015
A rare film about a young woman's coming of age. Captures the manic highs and lows of teen angst. Beautiful performances from the whole cast. I felt like I was eavesdropping on these people. Every scene is packed with emotion. I highly recommend it.
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