Film Review – What Maisie Knew (2012)

Title: What Maisie Knew (2012)

Directors: Scott McGehee and David Siegel (Bee Season)

Cast: Onata Aprile, Julianne Moore, Steve Coogan, Alexander Skarsgard, Joanna Vanderham

Plot: 6 year old Maisie (Aprile) is caught up in a messy break up of her equally messed up parents, wannabe rock star Susanna (Moore) and business man Beale (Coogan). Hope however presents itself with kind hearted nanny Margo (Vanderham ) and free spirited Lincoln (Skarsgard), Susanna’s new husband.

“I love him”

Review by Eddie on 3/02/2014

Upon watching What Maisie Knew something becomes glaringly apparent in regards to the most under-seen and underrated movies of 2013, for Maisie is right up there in concerns to both of those titles as it’s one of the best acted and well told touching tales in recent memory and heralds a stunning turn from first timer Onata Aprile as the titular young girl caught up in a horrifyingly complicated break up.

Directors McGehee and Siegel should be commended for the telling of this story which is adapted from Henry James’s acclaimed novel. McGehee and Siegel do a fantastic job of situating the story from Maisie’s point of view, a tactic that could of easily failed if the directors and young actress were not 100% on their game which stunningly they are on from the films beginning right through to the touching end. Performances are universally strong by the cast but despite featuring many a seasoned performer all are outplayed by Aprile.

It would be remiss to review this film without spending sufficient time talking about the revelation that is Aprile. This young girl completely owns this film and makes Maisie one of the most fully formed and hauntingly beautiful characters to grace the screens in quite some time. Aprile’s turn is filled with humour, elegance, love and sadness and not once does she make a misstep with the material set before her. It’s quite a sad prospect that due to the films low key release and general public knowledge it’s likely Aprile’s turn will not be recognised at award ceromonies but make no doubt about it, her turn should be acknowledged as one of last years best.

Watching What Maisie Knew with a dry eye is a daunting prospect for the film is touching beyond words and as haunting as anything released in the last 5 years. Finding the film may not be easy but the search is worth the reward for Maisie deserves to sit along classic break up tales such as Kramer Vs Kramer and welcomes in a new young acting talent on the scale not seen since Dakota Fanning in I Am Sam.

4 and a half useless parents out of 5

21 responses to “Film Review – What Maisie Knew (2012)

  1. I like a bit of culture but had been afraid that this would be a bit turgid and difficult to get into… but having read your review it’s going straight on my Lovefilm list. Thanks!

    • Hi Denise. That is great to hear that the review has sparked your interest, I think you will be really pleasantly surprised by the power of the movie and Moore is great.

  2. I whole heartedly agree with you. This was one of the most surprising films I saw in 2013 and a very underrated film.I went to the cinema not expecting much, but what I got was a beautiful and sad story with an amazing central performance. It made it in my top ten!

    • I was in the same boat as you Cinematic, I almost begrudgingly hired this out not expecting much but I was so glad I did. On second watch it lost non of its power either.

  3. I absolutely loved What Maisie Knew. Such a touching narrative and so much talent from the young actress, I agree completely, and it’s one of the best films I have seen in the past few years. Let’s hope to see her grow up to earn the film roles that she thoroughly deserves to play.

    • So glad you felt the same Enchanted, it’s a film I would love many more people to see as it’s a very low key release. I am sure some talent in Hollywood would be keeping there eye on Aprile for roles.

  4. Wow. Sounds terrific. This is the second such glowing recommendation I’ve read on it, and I even think it was playing in the arthouse theater nearby, but I foolishly gave it a miss. I’ll keep an eye out, thanks man.

    • Hopefully it’s reputation lasts on a long while, Coogan did have a great year he had comedies and touching films and his work on Philomeana’s script been getting some great plaudits.

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