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What Maisie Knew Blu-ray Review

What Maisie Knew Blu-ray

“What Maisie Knew” is a surprisingly affecting film.

One of the most rewarding aspects of reviewing DVDs and Blu-rays is coming across a genuinely good film that you might not have come across otherwise. “What Maisie Knew” is one of those films. At first glance, it seems like ‘Maisie’ could be a mixture of a Lifetime movie of the week and “Kramer vs. Kramer,” but thankfully, the movie is never overly sentimental or derivative of anything that has come before it. Yes, one can argue that ‘Maisie’ is repetitious at times (it often feels like this would be a perfect short film), but if you can look past that, you’re in for a supremely moving experience.

The story of ‘Maisie’ is told through the point of view of a young child (Maisie). Maisie never narrates the film or even speaks a lot of dialogue, but we see how her life is affected by her parents. Maisie’s mother is an irresponsible musician while her father is a globe trotting businessman who never seems to have time for anyone. Both of them wind up marrying someone else and, as it turns out, their new spouses wind up being more suitable parental figures for Maisie.  

Aside from the acting (which I will get to in a bit), what really makes ‘Maisie’ work is the screenplay by Nancy Doyne and Carroll Cartwright (which is based on Henry James novel). The film could have easily been sentimental Hollywood hokum, but thankfully, nothing about this movie feels remotely phony. The film’s unique storytelling structure is incredibly effective as we see poor Maisie being shuffled around from parental guardian to parental guardian. The fact that the selfish, distraught biological parents ignore Maisie or are oblivious to the emotional damage they are doing to her makes the movie all the more emotional and heartbreaking. If this sounds like it’s a complete downer, it’s not. As much as the film can feel like a gut punch at times, there’s an uplifting side to it all. Without getting into spoiler territory, let’s just say that the film has a happy ending that feels entirely earned. We all know that Maisie wants and deserves a happy family (whether it’s her own parents or not). She just wants a normal routine and people who will physically be there for her.

Script aside, it’s the acting that really drives this film. The entire ensemble cast (comprised of Julianne Moore, Alexander Skarsgard, Steve Coogan and Joanna Vanderham) give superb performances here, but it’s Onata Aprile (who plays Maisie) that makes the biggest impression. Her naturalistic performance as Maisie is the true heart of the film. It’s a tall order to have a child actor carry your movie, but Aprile pulls it off. Without her acting abilities, this movie would likely not have worked at all.

Video/Audio:

Presentation: 2.40:1 1080p. How dies it look? Grain and dirt specs are noticeable. Not the greatest hi-def transfer by any means.

Audio Tracks: Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and Stereo 2.0. How does it sound? Both tracks are a bit on the soft side, but they do their job.

Extras include Millennium Entertainment trailers, 4 deleted scenes, and a soft spoken and rather dull commentary by directors David Siegel and Scott McGehee.

Overall Thoughts: ‘Maisie’ may not be the type of character drama you will want to watch more than once, but it’s an important film to see nonetheless.

September 28, 2013 - Posted by | Blu-Ray review | , , ,

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