Margaret is a film that for various reasons was delayed several years prior to its eventual limited release which saw the film release in a two and a half hour cut. This however was not the directors preferred cut which has now been released on home video and has a run time of three hours and eight minutes.
Margaret despite my immediate assumption was not about a character called Margaret, rather the films is named after a character from the poem 'Spring and Fall: To a Young Child' by Gerard Manley Hopkins. The reason for which are the similar central ideas present in both the film and poem. The protagonist Lisa is played by Anna Paquin who is a young and apparently talented care free seventeen year old (though we are only told this and are never shown this). This however all changes when she distracts a bus driver who as a result runs a red light and hits a pedestrian who in the minutes that follow dies in Lisa's arms.
From here the film slowly begins to delve into the guilt Lisa fells for her part in what transpired, sadly the films jumps around different characters in Lisas' life and the numerous themes present at will. This results is the film felling overlong and unfocused. Likewise despite all around solid performances (in particular by Anna Paquin as Lisa and J. Smith-Cameron as Lisa's mother) the film ultimately lacks the emotional punch it could have had with a more focused narrative.
Margaret is a film that lacks focus and narrative cohesion that has an excessive number of interesting ideas forced into a film that as a result fells overcrowded yet still somehow manages to move at a snails pace. As a result whilst Margaret does have some strong performances the film devolves into a rather monotonous affair that is harder to sit through because of how uninteresting it is rather then how confronting the subject matter should be. Hence whilst the the extended cut of Margaret has glimpses of potential it ultimately does not come recommended.
Note: Sadly the leaner theatrical cut is not available on home video in Australia so I can't comment as to whether that provided for a more focused film.