Saturday, 17 December 2011

Margaret, dir/wr. Kenneth Lonergan, st. Anna Paquin, J. Smith-Cameron, Matt Damon, Mark Ruffalo, Matthew Broderick, Allison Janney, Jean Reno

Such is the breadth of circuitous narrative threads, proficiently woven characterisation and social commentary on display in Lonergan's sprawling, studio-confounded 2007 drama, it's tough to take it all in. The story concerns precocious Lisa (Paquin) who plays catalyst to a tragic accident and seeks to indignantly and ferociously repair the damage she has caused. Lonergan seems to want to focus on the bigger picture of wagging tongues, unbridled and uncensored, and how detrimental to the cause they can be, but ekes out the message through numerous network narratives. Paquin here is an elemental force of juvenile righteousness inhabiting a multi-veneered role far suited to her talents than Sookie Stackhouse. The big hitters - Broderick, Damon, Janney and Ruffalo - although memorable enough in what amounts to little more than cameos, play second fiddle to the compelling Smith-Cameron as Lisa's mother Joan. Watching the sparring contest between them, hissing and spitting through several breathtakingly performed scenes of intricately observed histrionics is at once exhausting and achingly sad. There's a disjointedness to the film's form and many will find the languid plot development disconcerting, but like Lisa herself, it's rather irresistibly hypnotic to watch.