Tuesday, September 23, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Essential viewing, out now on DVD and Blu-ray and starring Julianne Moore, Alexander Skarsgård, and the amazing Onata Aprile

"What Maisie Knew," among the best film releases of the spring, is out now on DVD and Blu-ray.

Essential viewing, out now on DVD and Blu-ray and starring Julianne Moore, Alexander Skarsgård, and the amazing Onata Aprile

Julianne Moore and Onata Aprile, in "What Maisie Knew"
Julianne Moore and Onata Aprile, in "What Maisie Knew"

Warning: What Maisie Knew should not be used as a parenting guide. Just out on DVD and Blu-ray, this exceptionally fine film -- directed by Scott McGehee and David Siegel (the team behind the Tilda Swinton noir, The Deep End) – finds a precocious New York first-grader being tossed back and forth like a beach ball by her separated, self-absorbed mom and dad.

Starring a wide-eyed and watchful Onata Aprile, who was all of 7 when the film was shot, What Maisie Knew is an adaptation of a lesser-known Henry James novel, a novel that screenwriters Nancy Doyne and Carroll Cartwright have brought from the late 19th century into the early  21st with bracing pathos. When Maisie’s rock and roll star mother, Susanna (Julianne Moore), and British businessman father, Beale (Steve Coogan), decide to break up, their daughter gets shunted from one apartment to the other, and gets left standing at the door of her grade school, waiting for someone to remember to pick her up. Enter a beautiful au pair (Joanna Vanderham), who Beale thinks it would be a good idea to pair up with, and a strapping young bartender (Alexander Skarsgård), who Susanna figures would make a nice trophy husband – and a nice babysitter while she’s out on the road.

The selfishness and irresponsibility of the two parents are stunning, and Maisie’s resilience even more so. If you didn’t get a chance to catch What Maisie Knew when it was in theaters this spring, do so now. The film deserves to be remembered come awards season time.

Steven Rea Inquirer Movie Columnist and Critic
About this blog

Steven Rea has been an Inquirer movie critic since 1992. He was born in London, raised in New York City, and has lived in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Iowa City, Iowa. His column, "On Movies," appears Sundays in Arts & Entertainment, his reviews appear in the Weekend section on Fridays, and his blog, On Movies Online, can be found here. He is a member of the National Society of Film Critics.

Steven Rea's previous blog posts can be found here. Read his most recent columns and reviews, here. He is the author of the book “Hollywood Rides a Bike,” and also curates the movie stars and bicycling photo blog, Rides A Bike.

Steven Rea Inquirer Movie Columnist and Critic
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