Title: What Maisie Knew
Directed by: Scott McGehee and David Siegel
Starring: Julianne Moore, Alexander Skarsgård, Onata Aprile, Joanna Vanderham and Steve Coogan
Running time: 98 minutes, Rated R, Available on DVD
Special Features: Director Commentary & Deleted Scenes
What Maisie Knew is a modern retelling of the classic Henry James novel told from the point of view of a six year old girl named Maisie. Her mother Susanna (Moore) is a rock icon who on the outs with Maisie’s father Beale (Coogan), a British art dealer. When Susanna is off on tour, Maisie is constantly left in the care of Susanna’s new husband Lincoln, whom Maisie adores. When Maisie’s father marries the former nanny Margo (Vanderham), she is often left on her own when Beale jets off on business. Margo and Lincoln soon form a bond of abandoned spouses who share the care and love of their stepdaughter. They show themselves to be better suited parents than Maisie’s biological ones.
The negative: For people who aren’t comfortable with long scenes with little to no dialogue may get antsy or bored. I want to go back and count how many scenes open and close with Maisie going to sleep or waking up. That’s not really negative, but something a little repetitive that my nitpick sensors picked up.
The positive: This film is incredibly moving. To witness the world falling apart around this delicate little girl was heartbreaking. Her parents abandoning her in similar instances made me a little weepy. I’m not one to praise child actors, but Onata Aprile is pretty incredible. Alexander Skarsgård shows his softer side which is unexpected but definitely welcome. In the deleted scenes I would’ve liked them to include the locksmith scene in the film. You almost expect something bad to happen, but it turns out to be a nice little moment between Maisie and a kind stranger.
If you are prone to bawling your eyes out when watching emotional dramas, then stock up on the tissues. I was pretty wrecked after watching What Maise Knew.
Total Rating: A
Reviewed by: JM Willis