What Maisie Knew
Director: Scott McGehee, David Siegel
Cast: Julianne Moore, Alexander Skarsgard, Steve Coogan, Onata Aprile, Joanna Vanderham
Country of Origin: USA 2012
Language: English 99 mins.
' An intelligent, thought provoking and emotional drama that dissects the complexities of family life with a stunning performance from Onata Aprile'.
The 1897 Henry James novel 'What Maisie Knew' is set in Victorian England and tells the story of a middle class couple's broken marriage and the effects their divorce has on their child. Transport that to modern day New York's SoHo and slot in Susanna (Julianne Moore) an ageing neurotic rock star and Beale (Steve Coogan), her English art dealer husband and their six-year-old daughter Maisie (Onata Aprile) who's stuck in the middle of their acrimonious divorce and you've the essence of a captivating and poignant drama.
Susanna, selfish and shallow and Beale are too busy and self-centred to care for Maisie - they're hard working 21st Century people,the mobile phone's the God, life's got to be busy, always something to do, live life to the full. There isn't time to spend with Maisie. She just swings from one parent's apartment to the other for fleeting expressions of love. And of course, she's their weapon in their divorce.
In the meantime Margo (Joanna Vanderham), Maisie's much loved nanny in a moment of insanity has married Beale and Susanna, not to be outdone, marries Lincoln (Alexander Skarsgard), an easy-going laid-back barman. 'I married him for you', she tells Maisie so Maisie tells her classmates 'My daddy married my nanny, so the court made my mummy marry Lincoln.'
Maisie bonds with Margo and Lincoln who are easy going, kind and fun - they have time for her. Will this make Susanna and Beale question themselves?
And while Susanna and Beale fight in the courts Maisie observes it all with a six-year-old's wide-eyed innocence, sensitivity and charm.
The opening scene with Julianne Moore made my think that this was going to be a saccharine riddled drama. How wrong I was. 'What Maisie Knew' won me over with ease. The cast were outstanding with Onata Aprile giving a performance to behold that conveyed the turmoil of a child in the midst of a custody battle. Intelligent, sharply scripted, heartfelt, emotional - don't miss it, it's a must see film.
And it brought to mind Philip Larkin's comment -'They f... you up, your mum and dad.'
Released by CURZON FILM WORLD