Margaret (Kenneth Lonergan 2005-2011)

Written by Celestino Deleyto. Posted in CCSBlog

margaretMargaret (Kenneth Lonergan 2005-2011) is a very unusual film. After a protracted and tortuous process, it was finally released in 2011 although it was shot in 2005. Lonergan first delivered a 180-minute cut to the studio, even though he was bound by contract to a 150-minute limit. Various people and companies took each other to court, Martin Scorsese and his habitual editor, Thelma Schoonmaker, were hired to bring the length down to the required 150 minute, which they did (with the director’s approval) in 2008 but then the film was withheld for another three years until the court cases where resolved. All of this shows in the release version (some of the parts seem shorter than they should have been whereas some transitions are awkward) and yet it all contributes to making this story of a wealthy but troubled teenager in Manhattan’s Upper West Side more enthralling. Margaret is one of the best New York films, capturing the city in a way that no other film has done before, both through its direct depiction of the Upper West Side and the portrayal of its very abundant cast of characters. The usual hectic rhythms of the city are here replaced by a mood that some critics have defined as operatic, and its well-known anxiety-ridden inhabitants are given a depth that is difficult to find in contemporary cinema. The fact that the actors look much younger in the film than they were in 2011, when it was released, contributes to a kind of ghostly appearance, a very different and very subtle take on the consequences of 9/11 for the psyche of a city.

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