Quick-Thoughts: Kenneth Lonergan’s Margaret (2011)

Review of The Extended Cut

Since when were high schools this laid-back and chill? I got ripped off! 

Margaret is essentially a real-time look at human response to tragedy from a couple different angles but mainly around a teenager named Lisa who unintentionally causes a lady to be killed in a bus crash. Kenneth Lonergan exhibits how we progressively endure or respond to disaster and how other people react or endure to those same reactions from whomever had experienced the disaster in ways that complicate what we see in each other’s character. We don’t ever know firmly how we should empathetically interpret disasters not only because of their rarities when it comes to experiencing them personally, but also because most of the time we rely too much on how we’re told we should or how we’ve perceived how others have done it; we don’t trust in ourselves but rely on the physical culture and order of what we’ve seen to do it for us, with the failure of it leading to the enforcement of self-exploration which then becomes that second chance at redeeming what appears, however, hopelessly unfinishable. 

Color me surprised though to find out that this movie is as if something as coming of age as Lady Bird (2017) or The Edge of Seventeen (2016) was clashed with this brutal drama surrounding a pretty unusually graphic legal crime. I don’t know if it necessarily made the film more focused than what it could’ve been, but it certainly made for a unique experience; then again, I don’t think Lonergan’s work is ever meant to be dead-eye concentrated regardless, and rather more so “free” almost like John Cassavetes’ directorial pieces in a sense. In fact, there’s even this provocative moment in the movie that sort of connects to my statement where the best friend of the woman who got killed in the bus accident accuses Lisa of turning what the lady claims is “her tragedy” into Lisa’s own one, unconsciously using it as a method to formulate a piece of her developmental story in her obvious transition from becoming a teen to an adult and therefore learning about the vexing real world. But, in all honesty, I kind of appreciate that scene, because we are built to always want to multitask issues, since our real lives aren’t really organized like an A to B, one problem at a time or ONLY one problem fantasy narrative; it’s much more busy and hectic than that. Lonergan seems to understand what makes the fictional stories we tell seem so… well umm… fictional, being that they don’t follow this sort of humanistic factor regarding mental jumble. We need a complex “epic” in our minds to make our existence feel grand and worthy, huh?

Anyways, I’ve got to mention this before signing off, but whoever it was that thought to overlap some of the dialogue in here with tons of other random dialogue is a G; our overly long-ass three-hour drama stories are but only one of billions happening nearly every minute. On the downside, however, I have to say, Anna Paquin and J. Smith-Cameron not getting Oscar nominations for this movie is kindaaa bulls**t.

Verdict: B

“Margaret” is now available to stream on HBO Max.

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