Fox Searchlight just might think twice next time before giving final cut to a second-time director. Case in point: “Margaret”, the long-withheld Kenneth Lonergan film that began principal photography in September 2005 and is only now seeing a theatrical release (September 30th to be exact).
The problems began with Searchlight’s decision to give the director, who helmed the critically-acclaimed Laura Linney indie “You Can Count on Me” in 2000, license to assemble his own cut of the picture, the only caveat being that it had to run 150 minutes or less.
What followed was a seemingly endless, contentious process that had the director either unable or unwilling to come up with a cut he was satisfied with. Soon enough, the studio, Gilbert, and Lonergan became embroiled in a court battle, with Lonergan finally managing to complete the film in July 2010.
In case you were wondering, the plot follows Lisa (Anna Paquin, pre-“True Blood”), a misanthropic high-school girl dealing with a guilty conscience after witnessing a horrible bus accident she feels partly responsible for. Matt Damon co-stars as one of Lisa’s teachers and Mark Ruffalo plays the driver of the bus, who Lisa eventually helps bring legal action against. Matthew Broderick and Kieran Culkin appear in supporting roles.
I actually read the script for the film back in 2006 and liked it quite a bit, but curiously, the trailer doesn’t seem to really capture its emotionally complex, darkly funny spirit. Anyway, watch for yourself and let us know what you think: