Mary Rose Cook

Margaret

I tried to find a still to illustrate this post. A still to illustrate the film. This is impossible. It can’t be the shot of Lisa shouting at her mum. It can’t be the shot of the bus driver bluffing his way through his interview with Lisa. It can’t be the shot of Darren crying. It can’t be the shot of the class debate blowing up. Margaret is just people talking. The shots are designed to show these conversations. As stills, they convey no information. There is little artistic observation in the locations, the colours, the montage, the framing. All there is are the words and the characters’ tones and expressions as they say them.

The most appropriate frame would come from the opening credits. These show New York crowds crossing streets in slow motion. They show the people lit up who are on stage and the people in darkness who are not. They make the ordinary lives of ordinary people as fascinating as those of fictional characters.

Margaret is a mess. It has too many side plots. It overdoes its crescendos. It has a strange mix of oblique emotional observation that is almost as good as Anna Karenina and characters that foghorn the director’s thoughts for him. Some characters feel like real people, others made up.

But it’s a very good film.