What Maisie Knew
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A contemporary reimagining of Henry James' novel, WHAT MAISIE KNEW tells the story of a captivating little girl's struggle for grace in the midst of her parents' bitter custody battle. Told through the eyes of the title's heroine, Maisie navigates this ever-widening turmoil with a six-year-old's innocence, charm and generosity of spirit.
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I'm wary about describing this film as one which focuses on a couple's break-up and divorce. I saw it as much more than that. The often confusing world of adults, as viewed from Maisie's perspective, left me wanting to shake her parents out of their self-centered life and somehow make them see that their daughter deserved so much more from them. To be truly heard. To be truly seen.
I'm also concerned that my description (so far) may make this seem like a downer of a film. But I didn't find it depressing, at least not a good share of the time. I was heartened to see that strangers could have the insight - and compassion- to create a safe harbor for Maisie and try their best to help her.
Ironically, by showing what Maisie sees and experiences - but without detailed commentary or analysis - her silence and facial expressions speak volumes (possibly even more powerfully than words). She is a child who is simply trying to trust, understand, and make sense of the sudden changes in her life.. So the film's viewers see and hear what she does: her parents' arguments, her joy when visiting a pond full of turtles, her reactions when visiting a home or apartment for the first time.
The filmmakers provide strong counterparts to the stereotypes of cruel stepparents. There are also enough plot twists and suspenseful moments to create a well- paced movie, one which underscores the importance of trying to comprehend events from a child's perspective. Or at least making a serious attempt, in spite of one's own pain.
The final scenes took me by surprise so I won't write much about those. But I will note that Julianne Moore's performance in that concluding section is stellar. In only a few minutes, she conveys anger, confusion, grief, and more....and it is all achingly realistic.
After seeing the film, I am now reading the James novel, What Maisie Knew for extra insight as well as for comparison and contrast between James' perspective and the filmmakers take from a more contemporary viewpoint.
I kept thinking Julianne Moore was chewing up the scenery but I guess in reality thats what some parents are like - me me me it's all about me.
I think this should be a "must see" movie for any one thinking about having children.
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This is a tough one to rate. If I was forced to rate only on how believable the plot is, I would have given it a 6.Read more