I’m not sure we could write much more about “Margaret” in this space. Last December, filling in the gaps with the rest of a press corps hammering out their top 10 lists for the year, I caught up to Kenneth Lonergan’s embattled film at one of two screenings Fox Searchlight politely scheduled for those who had missed it during its fleeting September release.
I loved it. I loved it so much it became, for me, the best film of 2011. I talked at length with Lonergan, who was unable to do press due to necessary legal hand-tying regarding lawsuits involving the studio and financier. Roth (also a fan of the film) talked at length with star Anna Paquin, a surreal experience for the “True Blood” vixen, given that she had worked on the film so long ago. And Guy, too, fell in love with it and ranked it pretty high on his list of the year’s best.
No, I don’t think there’s much more we could write…about the theatrical cut, anyway. But with a new extended assemblage finally coming to DVD/Blu-ray on July 10, you can bet we’ll find something!
Searchlight announced the news today, noting that the package will initially be available exclusively at Amazon. The theatrical cut (which ran just 11 seconds under the Fox-mandated 150 minute limit) will be included, as well as an extended version (supervised by Lonergan) that includes 36 additional minutes.
It will be a bare-bones package with no additional “special features” content, but beggars can’t be choosers. It’s a big deal for many that they will finally be able to see the film at all, let alone a version with so much more of Lonergan’s original vision.
The long, twisted road of “Margaret” has become legend, and naturally with something like that, and to paraphrase the great western, the legend has been printed a bit more than the fact. Searchlight was hammered at the end of the year for an apparent lack of publicity for the film, though few bothered to note the significance of the fact that Lonergan couldn’t really do much publicity, while Paquin was made available for this and that. Could the release have been broader? Yes, but with what marketing infrastructure to support it?
So I don’t think anyone should be tossing the studio (which sent screeners to the entire membership of the Academy last season) under the bus on this one. It was a big, fat, unfortunate situation all around.
The good news is #teammargaret resurrected the film’s spirit. Independent theater owners have kept that spirit alive (with prints of the film provided by Searchlight) as Lonergan has graciously brought his thoughts to audiences via Q&A sessions. And now, the film is set to reach a much wider audience on home video.
The legal situation is on-going. But great art will out, and for — to this viewer — the best film of 2011, it looks like a happy ending after all.