WRITTEN BY: Nancy Doyne, Carroll Cartwright
DIRECTED BY: Scott McGehee, David Siegel
STARRING: Julianne Moore, Alexander Skarsgard, Steve Coogan, Joanna Vanderham
RATING: 3 stars
Based on the novel by Henry James, What Maisie Knew is a tragic story about parenthood and the turmoil that children suffer when their parents go through a fierce custody battle. With powerful performances and a heartbreaking story, the film is an emotional journey for audiences.
When Susanna (Julianne Moore) and Beale (Steve Coogan) separate, their daughter Maisie (Onata Aprile) is forced to spend 10 days at a time with each parent. Beale marries Maisie's young nanny Margo (Joanna Vanderham) and in the hopes of getting sole custody of her daughter, Susanna marries young bartender, Lincoln (Alexander Skarsgard). The self-centred parents love their daughter but are not the best parents and often lose track of who's turn it is to take care of Maisie. Soon, it is left up to Margo and Lincoln to take care of Maisie.
Aprile is amazing in this film and that is a testament to how well she was directed by Scott McGehee and David Siegel. They were able to get a lot out of her to create a very raw performance and build a strong feeling of emotion for her character. Moore's character was hard to like but she was very good as a trashy, wannabe rock star. Coogan's character was also very selfish but it is good to see the funny man in dramas. Skarsgard is convincing and has great chemistry with Aprile. His character couldn't be more different to his infamous True Blood character. Vanderham is also solid and her character is endearing despite her flaws.
My main issue with the film is the ending, which I won't spoil, suffice to say it needed more closure. It was also too slow in parts, especially considering it was not a very long film.
What Maisie Knew is an interesting examination of how children view adults and the way they deal with their problems, teaching us that perhaps children are more aware of the grown up world than we may think.