The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: 20th Century Fox - 2011
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 150 minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 1.85:1
Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, Spanish/French Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Starring: Anna Paquin, Mark Ruffalo, Matt Damon, J. Smith-Cameron, Jean Reno, Kiernan Culkin, Matthew Broderick, Allison Janney
Written & Directed by: Kenneth Lonergan
Music by: Nico Muhly
Region Code: A
Blu-ray Disc release Date: July 10, 2012
From Academy Award® nominated* writer/director Kenneth Lonergan (You Can Count On Me) comes this stirring drama. Anna Paquin, Matt Damon and Mark Ruffalo lead a celebrated cast in the story of a Manhattan teenager whose life is profoundly altered after witnessing a terrible accident. Experience an emotional teen’s extraordinary journey to set things right as her innocent ideals come crashing against the harsh realities of the adult world.
Margaret centers on a 17-year-old New York City high-school student named Lisa who inadvertently has a hand in a bus/pedestrian traffic accident that claims a woman's life. After initially stating to investigators that the bus driver wasn’t at fault Lisa begins to suffer remorse/guilt after learning more about the accident victim. She attempts to set things right but finds that her credibility is seriously in question and those around her see little point in pushing the matter since it was after all an accident. Her personal life, which was already a bit shaky, begins to spiral as she clashes with her single mother, makes poor decisions involving her friends and seeks comfort in what seem to be all the wrong places. Frustrated, she embarks on a personal journey to see that this wrong is righted. At the end of the day Lisa will learn some very tough lessons about life and people.
At first glance Margaret would appear to be a fairly straight forward drama with a coming of age plotline revolving around a teenager who witnesses a tragedy that she may have inadvertently caused, lied about and struggles to make right. When I saw that the theatrical cut ran 150 minutes I knew that there was probably something more to it and I was right. Writer/director Kenneth Lonergan tells and emotively driven story from Lisa’s perspective as she deals with not only the ramifications of what happened but the ripple effect her actions have on those around her. This is most decidedly a character study with a moral center that is offset by a broad narrative that branches off in a few too many directions to be truly validating.
Clearly a work of passion Margaret wants to be a lot of things and is, but at times feels like a montage of unfinished thoughts as scenes begin and abruptly end while others drag on seemingly endlessly. There are events that appear to have a point but lead nowhere leaving snippets that are never fully realized. Maybe the extended cut (which runs 36 minutes longer) fleshes them out but this couldn’t be done in two and a half hours? Having said that there is meaning in much of what occurs but it requires a case by case thought process rather than seeing everything from a full circle perspective. While the accident is essentially the impetus for Lisa’s actions what we see is a sort of release for her pent up emotions, desires and developing teenage ideals.
I teetered back and forth on my opinion of Margaret. It’s complex and elusive with a stirring emotional depth that is supported by a strong performance by Anna Paquin. Like the film the cast has plenty of depth but is spread too far, making them less effecting. I didn’t watch the extended cut which is included on DVD. I must admit to being curious as to what if anything it will add or detract from the film. I do think that to fully absorb Margaret perhaps more than one viewing is necessary. Until then it would be safe to say that my reaction to it is a tepid one. There is no denying that it is an interesting film that makes for great coffee table discussion though. When time permits I will give the extended cut a shot and update this review.
This film contains strong language, sexuality, brief nudity, some drug use and disturbing images.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
Margaret comes to Blu-ray Disc from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 35 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 2.6 Mbps.
This is a satisfying high definition video presentation that delivers quality which is on par with a newer release film coming to Blu-ray Disc. Colors appear natural with pleasing depth and an intentionally subdued palette. Complexions are realistically depicted with defining texture, and good tonal separation. Blacks are respectable but don’t offer the depth and delineation that make them stand out. Detail in low light and dark backgrounds is estimable. Images offer good dimensional depth, stable sharpness, and clarity but doesn’t have opulent high level detail and vibrant colors. This appears to look exactly as intended which when all is said and done is fine.
The lossless audio presentation is solid and renders the soundtrack with aplomb. Dialogue is clearly rendered through the center channel and the recordings various elements are reproduced with appreciable refinement and appropriate depth. Aural perspective is one dimensional with emphasis on the front channels however venue replicating effects and diffuse ambience is fed to the rear channels which provide a limited but effective sense of envelopment.
- Bonus DVD containing the 186 minute extended cut of Margaret
Margaret comes form the mind of writer/director Kenneth Lonergan is an ambitious dramatic film that paints in fine uneven strokes as it tells a coming of age story from the perspective of a troubled teenage girl. It’s complex and elusive with a stirring emotional depth that is supported by a sterling performance by Anna Paquin. I found it to be an interesting character study but was put off at times by its broad and choppy story that left me wanting. Margaret makes its debut on Blu-ray featuring satisfying high definition audio/video quality but no bonus supplements. Fans will be pleased that, as a bonus, Fox has included a DVD containing the never before seen 186 minute extended cut of the film. While I can’t unreservedly recommend Margaret I do think that there is more to it than one viewing allows. I intend to revisit it via the extended cut and update this review afterward. In the meantime I would say that it is a worthwhile film experience that should be moved up on your rental queue.
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