2012 / Director. Scott McGehee & David Siegel.
WHAT MAISIE KNEW is nothing short of outstanding. Of all the films I have seen this year none have moved me as much as it did. It tells the story of Maisie, a little girl caught in the middle of her parent's bitter divorce. Dragged through the courts, bandied between them like a rag doll and dumped with strangers; little Maisie quietly observes the disruptive and neglectful tornado that consumes her life and she takes in every ugly detail. Each parent becomes involved with new partners, who fall in love with Maisie and offer her the nurture and stability she so desperately craves. It's a beautiful and heartbreaking story that's been captured so brilliantly. Adapted from a novel from the late 1800's the story has obviously been updated to a modern setting and having never read the book it clearly doesn't matter when it is set. At the core of this film is one hell of an incredible performance by 7 year old Onata Aprile. She is in every single scene and practically carries the film on her own. If this kid isn't nominated for an Oscar it would be an outrage and if Quvenzhané Wallis scored a nomination last year for Beasts of the Southern Wild then this girl definitely deserves it! Surrounding her are four rock-solid supporting performances from Julianne Moore, Steve Coogan, Joanna Vanderham and Alexander Skarsgård. You know those movies that affect you deeply? So much so that you want to jump into the TV and physically harm people? WHAT MAISIE KNEW is one of those films. I connected with the story on a personal level and from my own life experiences I understand and wholeheartedly believe in the importance of step-parents. Rarely does a film come along that shines a positive light on the important role they can play in a child's life and WHAT MAISIE KNEW is a film, which not only believes in their role but champions them. It's technically great too with colourful and vibrant cinematography and a lovely, yet subtle underlying score. As far as dramatic films go, WHAT MAISIE KNEW is triumphant. It effectively broke my heart and repaired it again.