Kenneth Lonergan returns again with his second feature film to date, Margaret. Anna Paquin plays Lisa Cohen, a young and rash 17-year old going through life with an overly rebellious nature, much like many teenagers today. Unaware of the repercussions of most of her actions, she indirectly causes an accident to occur resulting in the death of a woman. This entire incident will take a hold of her life and shake it up in ways that she never imagined. In other words, she will be forced to grow up, face the consequences of her actions and to take responsibility for them.
What truly got to me about this film was its ability to portray the ideals of many youngsters today and the way they inherently take a lot of things for granted. Lonergan was able to capture this perfectly; manifesting it in Paquin’s flawless performance of an overly dramatic teenager who thinks the world revolves around her. It is quite heartbreaking to see how her character thinks that she is mature and totally aware of what is going on around her, when in truth she is completely blinded by her own strong youthful opinions. It is when the accident occurs, that she indirectly feels that a stage is set for her to portray all these things that she has learned and felt, in a way that demonstrates maturity.
Mark Ruffalo and Matt Damon play their roles very well as supporting characters in Lisa’s story. They have solid roles but in truth are actually there to show us how Lisa responds to everyone else in general. They are the faces of the masses, regular people that we ourselves see in our own everyday lives. Almost everyone else in the film are adults, and it shows a great contrast to Lisa’s idealistic take on life as compared to theirs. She tries her best to set things right in the way that she knows best. It is when these ideals clash with the unsavory realities of adulthood that Lisa is forced to come to terms with her own questions and frustrations.
I have to admit, I was pretty shaken up by this film. The accident scene itself was one of the most traumatizing things I have ever seen in films, and the realism of it was captured in such a way that it forced the audience to come to terms with one’s own mortality and life in general. It also beautifully portrayed the city of New York, with its smoky streets and dim lights, and never ending legion of vehicles and traffic jams. In a way, the city itself was a supporting cast member that greatly added to the allure of the film. The movie was long (150 mins), but in my opinion was rather adequate, in order to maintain the steady growth of Lisa’s awareness to what was happening around her. A beautiful and poignant work of art, this one’s a must.
By Divya Prem
Margaret opens at Luna Palace Cinemas this Thursday 21st July.