Friday, 23 August 2013

What Maisie Knew.

Scott McGehee, David Siegel 



Running Time:
93 mins

Principle Cast:
Julianne Moore

Steve Coogan

Onata Aprile
Maisie Elizabeth Beale

Alexander Skarsgard

Joanna Vanderham

Some people don’t deserve children! And that definitely includes Susanna, a fifty something rock and roll star who dresses like underage trailer trash and still thinks she can cut it sexually and on the road, and her husband Beale a charming, slightly sleazy art dealer. Both of these rich ‘Manhattanites’ hate one another and certainly do not take their responsibilities seriously when it comes to bringing up their seven-year-old daughter Maisie. When these two get an acrimonious divorce Maisie gets shared between them, but generally gets left in the care of each of their new partners, ex-nanny Margo and bar man Lincoln and its left to this young child to make decision’s well beyond her age.

The film has been adapted from a Henry James novel that was first published in 1897 and has been transposed to modern day New York City. This relationship drama, made for adult audiences, is seen thru the eyes of a child and even some of Giles Nuttgens cinematography is shot from Maisie’s eye level.

Following the film at the EIFF a short Q&A was conducted with Perthshire born Joanna Vanderham last seen in Stephan Poliakoff’s highly acclaimed TV Drama series Dancing on the Edge. She explained that she was contacted by her agent whilst filming in Glasgow and told that she was wanted for a part in a film that was to be made in America. Within a very short space of time she found herself in New York playing Margo in her first full-length feature film. The part, which was not necessarily written for someone with a Scottish accent, stretched her emotional acting ability. She went on to tell us that it was very special working with the talented Onata Aprile, who because of her age had restricted working hours.

Joanna Venderham takes part in the Q&A.

One can’t help but ask how a young girl could be so level headed when she has spent her first seven years parented by a pair of obnoxious and unlikable people. But the directors, with the help of a tremendous cast pull it off. There are times in the film when you, the audience, truly worry for the safety of a young child and the film would have been even more heart rendering if the character of Maisie had not stood up so well, tackling her hardships with such strength and fortitude.  Which I must admit is down to the brilliant acting of Onata Aprile who I believe has a very bright future. 

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