What Maisie Knew, written by Carroll Cartwright and directed by Scott McGehee and David Siegel, updates Henry James’s 1897 novel about familial breakdown to contemporary New York,” Evening Standard critic David Sexton wrote during last September’s Toronto Film Festival.
“Eight-year-old Maisie’s warring, profoundly selfish parents are art dealer Beale (Steve Coogan, the weakest link in the film, always only himself, apart from some evocations of Alan Partridge) and aging rock star Susanna (Julianne Moore, as a truly a nasty piece of work). Neither is interested in Maisie herself, only in using her as a weapon against each other.
“Alexander Skarsgard and Joanna Vanderham are sympathetic as their new partners, who come together in caring more for Maisie than her own parents do — but the star of this show is Onata Aprile, just seven but wonderfully good as the wide-eyed, ever observant Maisie, increasingly wounded, turning in on herself.
“The film’s simple strategy of filming always from Maisie’s height whenever she is present works amazingly well, an object lesson in how point of view can be what matters most.”
I think child-custody battles are horrific. I can’t stand parents who’d much rather “defeat” their ex than make their child feel loved and secure. But I’m getting a moderate, intelligent vibe off this film. I could have seen it in Toronto but for several reasons I didn’t.