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Margaret (2011 film)

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Kenneth Lonergan
Produced by Blair Breard
Gary Gilbert
Anthony Minghella
Sydney Pollack
Scott Rudin
Written by Kenneth Lonergan
Starring Anna Paquin
Matt Damon
Mark Ruffalo
Kieran Culkin
Olivia Thirlby
Rosemarie DeWitt
J. Smith-Cameron
Matthew Broderick
Allison Janney
Jean Reno
Music by Nico Muhly
Cinematography Ryszard Lenczewski
Edited by Anne McCabe
Distributed by Fox Searchlight Pictures
Release dates
  • September 30, 2011 (2011-09-30)
Running time
150 minutes[1]
186 minutes (Extended cut)
Country United States
Language English
Budget $14 million[2]
Box office $564,864[3]

Margaret (/mɑːɡəˈrɛt/[4]) is a 2011 drama film written and directed by Kenneth Lonergan. The film stars Anna Paquin, Matt Damon, Mark Ruffalo, Kieran Culkin, Olivia Thirlby, and Rosemarie DeWitt. Margaret originally was scheduled for release in 2007 by Fox Searchlight Pictures, but was repeatedly delayed while Lonergan struggled to create a final cut he was satisfied with, resulting in multiple lawsuits.

While the studio insisted the film's running time could not exceed 150 minutes, Lonergan's preferred version was closer to three hours. Martin Scorsese and Thelma Schoonmaker contributed to editing a 165-minute version that Lonergan approved; the cut was never completed due to a budget shortage of $500,000. Eventually, Fox Searchlight Pictures released the 150-minute film in a limited release in the United States on September 30, 2011.

Lonergan eventually completed a three-hour extended version incorporating extra footage with revised score and sound mix, which was subsequently released on DVD in July 2012.[5]


A 17-year-old Manhattan student, Lisa Cohen, shopping on the Upper West Side, interacts with bus driver Gerald Maretti as she runs alongside his moving bus; he allows himself to become distracted, leading to a fatal accident by missing a red light, in which a pedestrian, Monica Patterson, is hit by the bus and subsequently dies in Lisa's arms. Initially, Lisa reports to the police that the driver had a green traffic signal, but later, out of remorse, changes her story. She confronts Maretti, who first pretends to have forgotten the details of the accident, and then reveals to her in anger that he does remember them, but believes he did nothing wrong, causing Lisa to pursue his firing from the company with passion. In collaboration with Monica's best friend, Emily, and cousin, Abigail, Lisa ultimately becomes involved in a wrongful death lawsuit against the Metropolitan Transit Authority, seeking the dismissal of the driver (who is revealed to have caused two previous accidents), as well as monetary damages, which would be awarded to the victim's next of kin, her cousin. Meanwhile, Lisa's life takes various turns, including a flirtation with her math teacher, Aaron Caije, her decision to lose her virginity to a classmate, Paul Hirsch, and various vehement debates about politics and terrorism with classmates.

Lisa and her actress mother have a rocky relationship, with sporadic fighting and Lisa expressing ambivalence toward her mother's boyfriend Ramon. An after-show dinner, attended by Lisa, her mother, Emily and Ramon, ends with Ramon making a remark perceived as antisemitic toward Emily. Ramon dies of a heart attack not long afterward. After Lisa's sexual encounter with Paul, and a subsequent one with Caije, she discovers she is pregnant and has an abortion. Lisa confronts Caije, telling him of the abortion in the presence of another teacher. She expresses doubt about who the father was and mentions that there are two possibilities.

The lawsuit reaches a conclusion, with an award of $350,000, but the MTA refuses to fire Maretti, out of concern that it would inflame a labor dispute. Abigail claims the settlement offer, revealing the monetary settlement to have been her primary motivation; this causes Lisa to become very upset and disillusioned with the outcome of the case.

Lisa and her mother plan to attend an opera that Ramon and she were to see before his death. On the way, Lisa sees Maretti driving the same bus that had killed the pedestrian and there is a brief moment where the two see each other. During the opera performance, Lisa's accumulated emotion from the sequence of events bursts out and she and her mother affectionately reconnect, crying together and holding each other as the opera goes on.



Filmed in 2005, the film's lengthy post-production sparked multiple lawsuits, which were scheduled to be tried in 2009.[6][7]

In July 2010, Fox Searchlight stated that Lonergan finally completed work on the film, and that it would be released in 2011.[8]


Critical response

Margaret received mostly positive reviews from critics and has "certified fresh" score of 75% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 91 reviews with an average rating of 7.1 out of 10. The critical consensus states "A surfeit of ideas contributes to Margaret's excessive run time, but Anna Paquin does a admirable job of guiding viewers through emotional hell."[9] the film also has a score of 61 out of 100 on Metacritic based on 27 critics indicating "Generally favorable reviews." It earned 5 star reviews from Time Out, The Daily Telegraph, and The Guardian.[10]

For her role as Lisa Cohen, Paquin shared the 2011 Best Actress Award from the London Film Critics Circle and received a nomination for Best Actress from the Chicago Film Critics Association. She placed first in critics’ polls from the LA Weekly, the Village Voice, and the International Cinephile Society.[11][12] On December 23, 2011, Fox Searchlight sent screeners of the film to AMPAS members.

Box office

Despite being well received critically, the film was a Box office bomb. The film was given a limited release in North America in 14 theaters and earned $46,495. In the UK, the film débuted on only one screen in one cinema – Odeon Panton Street in London. Such was the interest in the film that it took £4,595 in its opening weekend, giving it by some margin the highest screen average of any film on release at the time.[10] The worldwide total for the film was $564,864, well below its $14 million production budget.[13][14]

Home media

An extended cut of the film was released on DVD in July 2012 in both the UK and the US.[5][15] The US release also includes a Blu-ray of the film featuring the theatrical cut in high definition. The Canadian release uses identical packaging and claims to include both cuts but, in actuality, includes only the theatrical cut twice.


Original music was composed by Nico Muhly with additional cues by Elliott Carter. The film also features two scenes at the Metropolitan Opera, featuring "Casta Diva" from Bellini's Norma, and "Belle nuit, ô nuit d'amour" (Barcarolle) from Jacques Offenbach's Les contes d'Hoffmann.


  1. ^ "MARGARET (15)". British Board of Film Classification. 2011-10-31. Retrieved 2012-01-10. 
  2. ^ Margaret at Box Office Mojo
  3. ^
  4. ^ Charlie Lyne (2011-12-08). "If you go down to the Odeon Panton Street today ...". Retrieved 2012-12-21. 
  5. ^ a b "Hi Def Digest DVD Announcement". 
  6. ^ Horn, John (26 April 2009). "Kenneth Lonergan's 'Margaret': post-production in a courtroom". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 11 September 2011. 
  7. ^ Labrecque, Jeff. "Kenneth Lonergan on his 'Margaret' odyssey: 'I'm truly happy about the way things turned out'". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 20 November 2013. 
  8. ^ Anne Thompson (July 22, 2010). "Black Swan Opens 67th Venice Biennale; American Films Expected; Where's Margaret?". Thompson on Hollywood. indieWIRE. Retrieved October 21, 2010. 
  9. ^ Margaret at Rotten Tomatoes
  10. ^ a b "Arthur Christmas makes its presents felt at the box office". the Guardian. 8 December 2011. Retrieved 8 December 2011. 
  11. ^ Steve Pond (2011-12-29). "Critics’ Awards Round-Up: ‘The Artist’ Still on Top … for Now". Retrieved 2013-12-02. 
  12. ^ "ICS Sues Hollywood for A Separation". 2012-02-22. Retrieved 2013-12-02. 
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^ Brooke, Michael. "Sight and Sound DVD Review". This video release of a significantly longer cut that bears a much stronger resemblance to Lonergan’s 2005 shooting script. 

External links