Sunday, August 3, 2014

Margaret (2011)

Director: Kenneth Lonergan
Writer:    Kenneth Lonergran
Cast:       Anna Paquin, J. Smith Cameron, Mark Ruffalo, Matt Damon

A young woman witnesses a bus accident for which she is partly to blame, and is caught up in the aftermath. where the question of whether or not it was negligence from driver that caused the accident affects many people's lives.

I saw this film in Film4's list of 100 must see films from 21st century and  it was in the top 20. I hadn't previously heard about this film and decided to watch it to figure out what the hoopla was about. It certainly didn't disappoint. The film is centered around this thoroughly unlikeable 17 year old girl who is bit of a drama queen. She is growing up in what she herself calls as a posh liberal Jewish background and represents the naive outrage that is seen among the Facebook generation. The accident was caused because she herself was distracting the bus driver and him not seeing the light changing to red. She initially tells the police that the light was green and it was an unfortunate accident because she felt sorry for the driver. The case gets closed and she is seen carrying on her normal lifestyle as if nothing major has happened but she later decides to change her statement after confronting several people associated with the accident including the driver. Then it becomes a moral crusade for her to get the driver fired and it appears she is not taking some responsibility for her part in it. This is done in a very subtle manner because she is selective to which people she is telling the whole story. She carries on making bad decisions which include seducing her own fucking teacher and after the sex she seems to be blaming him for the incident. This is a pattern throughout the film and the director is relating this to how the developed world reacts to situations like Terrorism and also why US seemingly don't understand why so many people hate it. This aspect of the film comes through during the various debates the girl has in her school and even the title of the film comes from an extract from a Shakespeare play in which they discuss why God is not concerned with the plight of the humans and to it humans are just like flies which need to swatted. Here one can relate to God as the US which is not concerned about the trail of destruction it leaves behind due to its Corporates and the meddling foreign policy. I just wish director kept his subtle style throughout the film and not spelling it out for the audience with that scene about typical Jewish response.

The film was completed in 2007 but release got delayed because the director couldn't make a final cut for a long time. Finally after several lawsuits this 150 minutes version of it was released, but another 180 minutes extended Director's cut is also available. Many have criticized its running time but it is totally justified to showcase the normalcy with which the protagonist carries on with her life. It is a great watch.

Rating: 5/5