movie film review | chris tookey

What Maisie Knew

© Unknown - all rights reserved
  What Maisie Knew Review
Tookey's Rating
7 /10
Average Rating
6.86 /10
Onata Aprile , Julianne Moore, Steve Coogan
Full Cast >

Directed by: Scott McGehee and David Siegel
Written by: Carroll Cartwright and Nancy Doyne, based on Henry Jamesí novel

Released: 2013
Genre: DRAMA
Origin: US
Colour: C
Length: 99

Quality cinema.
Reviewed by Chris Tookey

Bookmark and Share

What Maisie Knew is a beautifully acted, thought-provoking drama that skilfully updates Henry Jamesí little-read 1897 novella to the modern era. Itís centred on an astonishing, Oscar-quality performance by little Onata Aprile (pictured right), as an innocent six year-old shuttled between adults as they conduct their lives with varying degrees of selfishness.

There has been no more moving study of the damage divorce and thoughtless parenting can do to a child. Seeing a child suffer is never an easy watch, and thatís bound to affect this pictureís commercial prospects; but I would thoroughly recommend it, especially to anyone contemplating starting a family. Itís a cautionary tale, but also shows how rewarding becoming a father or mother can be.

The miraculous element is the childís generosity of spirit. She may not understand what is going on Ė the title is, of course, ironic Ė but her generous spirit and capacity for love shine through.

Julianne Moore (pictured left) is predictably superb as the little girlís flaky, rock star mother. More surprising is Steve Cooganís fine performance as Maisieís workaholic, art-dealer father, a class above anything he has achieved before. There is excellent acting too from Alexander Skarsgaard and Joanna Vanderham as the young people who reluctantly find themselves turning into surrogate parents.

Henry Jamesí didactic plots have not worn well, but this one does; itís the most pertinent study of modern family life since The Kids Are All Right. Directors David Sieghel and Scott McGehee were also responsible for The Deep End, a good 2001 thriller with a memorable performance by Tilda Swinton. They certainly have a way of getting the best out of actors.

Key to Symbols