Based on the novel by Henry James (1843-1916) directors Scott McGehee and David Siegel gift audiences an engrossing, captivating film starring Onata Aprile as “Maisie”, an enchanting sprite of a girl, whose penetrating, enthralling gaze, mesmerizes viewers and simmers with volumes of wisdom; wisdom that a six-year-old should not possess.
Maisie is the product of parents from Hades; “Suzanna” (incomparable performance by Julianne Moore) is an ageing hag, a rock singer with thinning hair, shrinking tattoos, striving to make a comeback; a doomed marriage, Maisie, represents her only worthwhile accomplishment; a trophy to be polished and exhibited at whim.
“Beale” , vaguely-defined, is Maisie’s father (innocuous portrayal by Steve Coogan), lacking Suzanna’s volatility, he is a calming, benign, primarily invisible, presence in her life.
As Maisie’s parents evaporate, selfishly into their own myopic worlds, replaced by surrogates: “Margo” (sweet, portrayal by Joanna Vanderham) and “Lincoln” (charismatic, beguiling Alexander Skarsgard), the film focuses on Maisie’s unspoken instincts for survival; exposed to nurturing normalcy she thrives; her boundless capacity for love imbues a grace and harmony rarely experienced in contemporary film. Maisie’s love for her parents is never diminished, simply redefined; herein lies the beauty, in this gem of a flick.