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Popcorn & Prejudice: A Movie Blog

Seattle Times writer Moira Macdonald muses on moviegoing. Email Moira: mmacdonald@seattletimes.com.

January 26, 2012 at 11:39 AM

The arrival (finally) of “Margaret”

If you go to see Kenneth Lonergan’s drama “Margaret” this weekend at the Uptown (and you should), you might notice that Anna Paquin looks a little younger in the movie than she looks these days in “True Blood.” That’s because she is younger: “Margaret,” in which Paquin plays a Manhattan teen struggling to come to terms with her role in a tragedy, was shot in 2005. Lawsuits (at least one still pending) and editing delays held the film up for many years, and it almost disappeared from view: Fox Searchlight, its distributor, finally released the film in a tiny handful of cities (not Seattle; this week’s release is its debut here) in late September, during which time it earned about $47,000.
Then something unexpected happened: buzz. An online campaign, started by Jaime Christley, built some momentum. “Margaret” began turning up on yearend best-of lists. And people just started talking about this movie — and now, finally, we in Seattle can see what they’re talking about. I saw it earlier this week and it’s a wonderfully textured and moving film, the kind people will want to discuss at length afterwards.
And I’m hoping to see it again — in the version the director intended. It’s a final twist in this movie’s long, complicated saga that the version being released this time is not Lonergan’s preferred cut, but a shorter one. (At 149 minutes, the current version of the film isn’t exactly short, but never feels long.) Due to the lawsuits swirling around “Margaret,” reports TIME magazine, this version was the only one that could be agreed upon. Lonergan, an acclaimed playwright as well as a filmmaker, says he can’t talk about the reasons.

“I support this Cut wholeheartedly and want people to see and like it, because the actors deserve to be seen and appreciated for their amazing work,” he wrote in his statement. “But while I fully support the released Cut, it’s also no secret that I tried to get a subsequent version released, which Marty Scorsese very graciously helped with, which even more fully executes my complete intentions — a cut that I still hope will someday, somehow see the light of day.”

I’d love to see it. In the meantime, go see “Margaret,” and continue the conversation.

Anna Paquin in “Margaret” (photo by Myles Aronowitz, courtesy of Fox Searchlight).

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