What Maisie Knew


A rather hollow take on a dysfunctional marriage and how the 7 year old daughter copes.

The two directors Scott McGehee and David Siegel come from a background in American Independent films. Their best known previous collaboration would be The Deep End (2001) a drama surrounding murder, featuring Tilda Swinton. Also worth noting are the two screenwriters Nancy Doyne and Carroll Cartwright who have waited 18 years to get this film made.

Set in New York Susanna and Beale face divorce leading to a custody battle for their 7 year old daughter Maisie. The absurdity of the two parents working life and personal conflict leaves Maisie trying to reach out to new people in her life.

From previous reviews I have often mentioned how Drama is regularly my favourite genre and I find this most enjoyable when a film allows the characters to dictate the action. Along with the premise of the film being relatively simple I was excited to watch another heart felt film that doesn’t exaggerate. Unfortunately I found myself disappointed by this film as it lacked any real soul that is integral to making such a film all the more special. There was a constant lacking tone throughout that meant I was never fully on board with the characters and this lead to a rather average experience.

Having said this the film is not without it’s merits, firstly Onata Aprile (the child actress playing Masie) is truly one to look out for and I’m sure will see her in plenty more films. This performance is backed up by now veteran actors Steve Coogan and Jullianne Moore as the parents. As always Coogan manages to play the part of a rather self centred man very well and this leaves very little time for any comedic touch. Moore fits the bill for an ageing rockstar who’s heart is in the right place but can never correct her priorities. The two step parents Margo played by Joanna Vanderham and Alexander Skarsgard playing Lincoln are the main source of enjoyment. The scenes in which their characters interact with each other and care for Maisie are played out very well, making for the best parts of the film.

Having started off relatively negatively in this review I want to reiterate that this is by no means a bad film, it just failed to fully engage me as much as other character dramas have. Considering the effort and time the screenwriters went into getting this film made you can see how much that might have influenced the story.

A relaxing drama that just failed to fully embrace me

6.5/10

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