Tuesday, January 6, 2015

BEST OF 2010-2014 #5 MARGARET

Kenneth Lonergan's almost-never-released masterpiece Margaret is a film that many don't even know exists, and that's truly a shame, because it's as compelling and as powerful as dramatic cinema can get. Lonergan’s lone previous directorial credit, You Can Count On Me, was as perfectly observed indie dramedy with black humor and lots of heart. With Margaret, he goes large, and the results are no le...ss impressive. Featuring a volcanic lead performance from Anna Paquin (never better), the film centers on a tragic city-bus accident and the aftermath that it creates. It's a story about guilt, grief, acceptance, and finally, forgiveness, and nothing about the narrative is easy or simple. The film utilizes an Altman-esque sound design with tons of overlapping dialogue; Lonergan's decision to also have the casual conversations of extras and passerbys audible on the soundtrack and audible to the main characters further heightens the anxious mood and frenzied atmosphere of this unobtrusively engrossing tapestry of people and events and places and emotions. The superb Mark Ruffalo pops up in yet another soul-searching supporting turn, and the film is enlivened with the likes of Matt Damon, Allison Janney, Kieran Culkin, Rosemarie DeWitt, Matthew Broderick, Olivia Thirlby, and Lonergan himself. We'll never know exactly what happened behind the scenes with this film. The oft-rumored "Scorsese-Schoonmaker Cut" would certainly be interesting to see, but what we're left with is a film of enormous ambition, a multilayered magnum opus from one of the best, most underappreciated voices that Hollywood has come across in years.

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