With its heavyweight themes, three-hour running time and addled sense of focus, director Kenneth Lonergan’s MARGARET is a glorious mess of a movie.
Originally intended for theatrical release in 2006, the film was to be Lonergan’s directorial follow-up to his Oscar-nominated debut, You Can Count On Me. The project languished in post-production hell, however, as Lonergan and the producers fought over the final edit.
Margaret had a very limited theatrical run late last year and has now been issued to home video in a DVD/Blu-ray combo pack with both the shorter theatrical cut and Lonergan’s own three-hour director’s version.
I watched the three-hour cut and suspect the shorter edit will have its merits, studio-imposed or not. The film is long and rather exhausting, but in a good way. It’s like taking a walk around the city, getting a little lost, and going about twice as far as you’d planned. It still feels good afterward, and you see some interesting things.
It goes like this: New York City private school student Lisa Cohen lives a life of relative privilege. Mom (J. Smith-Cameron) is a working actress on Broadway, dad (Lonergan) a commercial director in L.A. One dark day, Lisa is involved in a tragic accident when she accidentally distracts a bus driver (Mark Ruffalo), who runs a red light and kills a woman crossing the street.