Movie Review: What Maisie Knew (2013)

It’s really hard to know what’s actually going on within the mind of a child at any given time. It would be interesting to be able to just get a good look inside the noggin of a child and see what is happening in there… especially during strange/traumatic events. Not saying they should be exploited like that, just that it would be interesting to see how their mind might process these things.

Ladies and gentlemen… “What Maisie Knew”.

We follow Maisie (Onata Aprile), a six-year-old girl. Her parents (Julianne Moore & Steve Coogan) are going through an out-drawn and bitter custody battle over Maisie. So we basically follow Maisie journey through this custody battle, and we see how it affects her and her life. What I found interesting about it never leaves Maisie’s perspective. It’s less about the custody battle itself, and more about how Maisie looks at it and tries to sort of cope with all the weird changes that happen in her life. The perspective of the young child is fairly unique in these kinds of stories, and it gives the movie a very interesting and unique feel. It’s a plot that can be quite heavy, but it also doesn’t shy away from showing some of the happier moments in Maisie’s life. It’s good.

What I like about the characters here is that none of them are painted as an antagonist or a perfectly good person, but rather as flawed and fairly realistic human beings. First up we have Onata Aprile as Maisie, the titular girl who’s going through all of this. The best way I can describe her character is that she’s a child. She’s naive, but not stupid. She’s filled with joy, but she’s not happy all the time. She feels very realistic in terms of the situation. And Aprile is really good in the role. Then we have Julianne Moore as Maisie’s mom, Susanna. She’s a hot-headed and somewhat self-destructive musician. She loves her daughter, due to her being a bit hot-headed and egotistical, it creates a bit of a rift between her and the people around her, and it makes her quite a tragic character. And Moore is great in the role. Then we have Steve Coogan as Beale, Maisie’s dad. He’s an art dealer who is away quite a lot and very rarely finds time for his daughter. But he’s not a total ass about it, like some movies would portray him. And Coogan is really good in the role. Then we have Alexander Skarsgård as Lincoln, a man that Maisie’s mom more or less starts dating in the movie. He’s a pretty quiet man with a good heart, and is the closest to a full on “good guy” we have here. And it’s interesting to see his relationship with Maisie grow throughout the movie. And Skarsgård is great in the role. The final one we’re talking about is Joanna Vanderham as Margo, Maisie’s nanny and pseudo-bonus-mom. Kind of like with Lincoln, she is kind of the closest we have to a good person, as she cares more about Maisie rather than her own wants and needs. And Vanderham is really good in the role. Overall it’s a very well acted movie.

The score for the movie was composed by Nick Urata, and it was really good. It’s a relaxing and emotional piece that is clearly trying to capture the childlike innocence of Maisie and her perspective on the entire situation. And it really captures that feeling perfectly, creating a beautiful score that helps bring a lot of extra emotion to the movie.

Based on a very old novel by Henry James, this movie was directed by Scott McGehee & David Siegel, and I think they did a really good job with it. Just like with the plot and music, their direction here is from Maisie’s perspective, aiming to show us what this entire situation looks and feels like from her point of view. The camera work never really strays from Maisie, always keeping it within close proximity of her to sort of keep us close to her. She’s the important one, not the other people. And that perspective is captured very well. And the cinematography by Giles Nuttgens is pretty damn good too.

This movie has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 86% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 74/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,5/10.

“What Maisie Knew” is a heartfelt look into a child’s life during a strange time. It has a really good plot, good characters, great performances, really good music, and really good directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “What Maisie Knew” is a 9,67/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “What Maisie Knew” is now completed.

I feel quite lucky that I’ve never had to deal with anything like this.

3 thoughts on “Movie Review: What Maisie Knew (2013)

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