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412 Ratings

What Maisie Knew

United States, 2012


Based on the Henry James novella, the story frames on 7-year-old Maisie, caught in a custody battle between her mother – a rock and roll icon – and her father. What Maisie Knew is an evocative portrayal of the chaos of adult life seen entirely from a child’s point of view.

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What Maisie Knew Directed by Scott McGehee, David Siegel
The absence of voiceover, and the fact that there is little attention given to Maisie’s patterns of behaviour in ways that might give us access to her inner life, leaves us on the surface with a wonderfully touching performance but no real equivalent of the deep feeling of responsibility of James’s Maisie, or of the crisis of her so-called ‘moral sense’ at the novel’s climax. However, enough remains of the traumatic events in James’s story to give the film a spine…
August 23, 2013
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It’s probably best to approach Scott McGehee and David Siegel’s intimate, unnerving and entirely addictive drama “What Maisie Knew” by not leaning too hard on its Henry James source material. While readers of James’ brief and brilliant 1897 novel will surely spot and enjoy the numerous parallels and points of connection, this is an absorbing 21st-century childhood thriller – not a contradiction in terms, I promise – that requires no literary study.
May 07, 2013
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Skarsgard and Vanderham are charming and convincing as the flaxen-haired guardians who prove to be much more adept at child rearing than Maisie’s biological parents. The simple moments of childhood bliss they facilitate—a day at the park, a game of monopoly, horseplay on the Highline—seem to alleviate the cumulative effect of parental neglect.
May 03, 2013
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