|Jean (J. Smith-Cameron) and Lisa (Anna Paquin)|
At one point, the idea of Lisa as the centre of a narrative is explicitly disputed by one character, their mouth practically spitting with disgust at the idea of such a self-centred idea. Margaret's title seems to take issue with this too - Margaret is none of the characters, not even the dead one, but a Gerard Manley Hopkins poem read out by one of Lisa's teachers. There is a sense of latent resentment as the film aligns with Lisa; passages that spend time with her mother Joan (J. Smith-Cameron) vibrate with a peculiar jealousy, stemming from Joan being slowly pushed out of her daughter's worldview, while her father (Lonergan) exists only in phone calls to his daughter, sympathetic but disconnected, trapped in an airless Los Angeles beach house. Students who are forced to witness Lisa's circular political arguments with a Muslim classmate yell to reinstate themselves in Lisa's narrative. Characters who are at one moment integral to Lisa's narrative fall away, her life shifting in a different direction - youthful romantic possibilities shed for starker, more cynical sexual entanglements. Among many things, Margaret is a story of a girl struggling with adulthood, a question of how a confrontation with death might mature her, and twist her self-perception.
|Lisa shrinks from the world around her|
|Lisa's gaze rests on sympathetic teacher Mr. Aaron (Matt Damon)|
I left Margaret in a similar way to that in which I left Melancholia - my sense of the word around me felt irrevocably different. But where Melancholia's florid, epic ambition left me on some other plane of existence, Margaret thrust me back out into a world full of people, a fresh tactility and almost hyper-awareness of all the individual stories and issues brushing past me. Margaret's lack of grand scope is what makes it so ambitious, as if it's epic qualities have been turned in on themselves, expanding within character rather than in the form of a terrifying planet. It pinpoints, finally, the difficulties of living, and the precious moments we'd all do our best to ensure we actually look at. (A)
Margaret is playing three times at a day at the Odeon Panton St. in central London until next Thursday. If you can get there at all, run.