Opening in theatres this Friday from directors Scott McGehee and David Siegel comes a film from a smaller point of view of adults from WHAT MAISIE KNEW.
This film tells the story of Maisie (Onata Aprile), a seven-year-old girl who witnesses the destructive nature of adults and relationships. Her mother Susanna (Julianne Moore), is a washed out rock star and father Beale (Steve Coogan) are caught up in their own worlds.
So much so that Maisie relies on nanny Margo (Joanna Vanderham) to see to some of her needs. As the arguments get louder Maise gets quieter until her father moves out. Going to court for custody, she is rocked when her father marries Margo.
Not to be outdone, Susanna up and marries Lincoln (Alexander Skarsgard), a bartender who actually enjoys Maisies’ company. The little girl is split between her parents’ time wise until Dad starts making trips abroad and Mom goes out on tour.
Now Maisie is with Margo and Lincoln – strangers who lighten her heart!
FINAL WORD: Onata Aprile is one ball of talent! As Maisie she is keenly aware of what is going on around her but never once forgets to be a little girl. She is sweet and a heart full of love for everyone around her and selfless beyond limits. Aprile is so endearing with a face that is so forgiving it was easy to forget this was a film. This is the second time this week I have seen this little actress as she is also briefly in THE HISTORY OF FUTURE FOLK.
Moore as Susanna is completely self-absorbed and although seems to love Maisie, not in a way that is loving to a child. Never striking Maisie however dosen’t mean she is not abusive. Her manipulations and lack of common sense are such a detriment to this little girl. Moore gives is her all and once again turns in a stunning performance, as I would expect nothing less.
Coogan as dad Beale is just one big mess of a man and Coogan’s wild hair and quick wit only add to the mess. He is loving to Maisie but when push comes to shove – he shoves but not in a way that embraces this little girl. “Winning” seem to be his goal and Coogan’s character has no problem using anyone to that end. Well done Coogan, extremely well done.
Vanderham as nanny Margo sets herself up for such a hard fall. It doesn’t take long to realize she has fallen into the stereotype of the older man and the younger nanny. She loves but is only a pawn. Vanderham is just lovely with Maisie’s character, even when things are crashing down around her. Once again the love of this little girl exudes healing.
Skarsgard as Lincoln plays the role of another used human being (which is the theme running here) but sees so much in Maisie. He listens and sees all that Maisie could be given the right family life. Skarsgard is the gentle soul with a child like wonder that Maisie embraces – and with good reason. This actor has been bad to the bone and playing Lincoln gives us another look what Skarsgard is capable of.
Other cast include: Sadie Rae as Zoe, Messe Spadaccini as Martin, Diana Garcia as Cecelia, Amelia Campbell as Ms. Baine, Maddie Corman as Ms. Tettenbaum, Paddy Croft as Mrs. Wix, and Emma Holzer as Holly.
TUBS OF POPCORN: I give WHAT MAISiE KNEW four tubs of popcorn out of five. This is such an amazing film. Seen from the eyes of this little girl it is gut wrenching that she witnesses adults creating madness. In the five-person relationship here, Maisie is the one who doesn’t judge, isn’t harsh and always loves.
There are such amazing moments when Aprile is on the screen. Moments of quiet where the audience gets a chance to catch its breath but at the same time watch this young lady hang on to childhood. She seems always one step ahead of everyone else and eventually learns its okay to be happy.
Something many of us could take a lesson from! Take a moment and embrace this story, see a talented cast work their magic and in the end feel you have seen something extraordinary on the screen.
In the end – strangers come together to create something beautiful!