Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Peachy Review: What Maisie Knew

It isn't often I get incredibly excited about a film, but when I do, my God I do!  So imagine my excitement when 'What Maisie Knew' was FINALLY released in cinemas last Friday!

Having watched the trailer for this film about 75 times over the last six months, I was extremely excited to see this stylish, modern-day remake of the Henry James novel of the same name.  A tale of parental woe, with hints of Robert Benton's Kramer vs Kramer; the film's main protagonist is a 7 year old girl whose exposure to her parents' relationship implosion, not to mention the messy aftermath, is both compelling and heartbreaking.

Newcomer Onata Aprile plays the part of Maisie to absolute perfection, her communication is somewhat stilted and monosyllabic as she learns to exist around her parents' self-involved natures.  But like a timeless professional, Onata portrays so much more with her eyes and mannerisms as she is swept along with her parent's self-obsessive compulsions.  Steve Coogan plays the part of Maisie's father with a distracted and aloof air, flitting between countries and barely thinking twice about the welfare of his little one.  Whilst Julianne Moore, as ever, is outstanding as Maisie's rock star Mother, playing an issue-ridden, narcissistic woman on the edge; who appears more 'put-upon' by her daughter than would seemingly be the case.  We learn about Maisie's world through Maisie herself (who appears in each and every scene), we feel her pain as she is shoved from pillar to post in a hideous custody battle and we rejoice through her as she begins to develop more stable relations with her parents' new partners.

What is perhaps most endearing in What Maisie Knew, is how Maisie finds an inseparable bond with her mother's new partner, Lincoln, played by the ever-dreamy Alexander Skarsgard.  A lost character himself, Lincoln is a bartender who has dreams of making it as a musician.  No sooner has he appeared on the scene, a near enough stranger, to carry out Moore's chores and pick Maisie up from school, the two embark on a journey of discovery together, both characters growing in themselves and in their abilities to shape the world around them.  It is only with her extended family, that we see Maisie really begin to open up and allow herself to be happy.  A climactic part of the film, for me, was Maisie whispering to her Nanny-cum-Stepmother Margo (a fantastic, pivotal performance by Joanna Vanderham), 'I love him', when asked if she really liked Lincoln.  Don't we all Maisie, don't we all!

Skarsgard plays the part of Lincoln without fault, portraying a softer, less assured character than what he is typically known for.  The man never ceases to amaze me with his versatile acting ability and nothing pulled at the heartstrings, more than watching his stooping 6"4 frame carry a sick Maisie back to bed.  

I would recommend anyone to go and watch What Maisie Knew.  It failed to disappoint on any level, the plot was sensitive, the acting was fantastically understated and the film itself was stylish, each shot crisp and beautiful; from park scenes to lavish apartments.  Not often enough do we see films that allow you, as an audience member, to be enveloped in pure characterisation and a juicy, thought-provoking plot.  But that's my bag, and if it's yours, drop what you're doing and go and catch a viewing of this fantastic film!


bees make honey said...

I really rate Julianne Moore and can see how she pull of the character of Maisie's haphazard parent incredibly well. I will certainly plan to see it now I have read your review :) x

jilbry58 said...

This is definitely one for me, sounds right up my street. Thanks for the very informative and well-written review!