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The story is harrowing in its depiction of an almost-casual loss of innocence.

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Henry James' book was told entirely from Maisie's point of view, and the film is courageous enough to attempt the same thing. When connecting links are lost, when a collage of images takes the place of exposition, it is because a 6-year-old girl is our guide. The result is a painful and often infuriating film, with a sense of unnamed terror flickering on the periphery: What effect will these events have on Maisie as she grows up?

Does anyone care? Maisie lives with her parents in a beautiful Tribeca apartment.


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Her mother Susanna Julianne Moore is a rock star, working on a new album, and her father Beale Steve Coogan is a businessman, always on his cell phone. Their vicious arguments are constant background noise in Maisie's life, and she is shown coloring in her room or playing with her toy horses as the sounds of parental hatred ricochet up through the floorboards. It might as well be traffic outside for all Maisie reacts to it. Divorce is clearly inevitable with these two, but it is once they separate that the combat really begins.

Maisie's sweet nanny Margo Joanna Vanderham is suddenly ensconced at her father's new apartment, ostensibly to keep taking care of Maisie, but really because she has entered into a romantic relationship with Beale.

What Maisie Knew (Annotated)

There's a sickening sense in these scenes of adults trying to "get away with something" in front of a child. Maisie's father, brilliantly played by Coogan as a nasty piece of work, couldn't care less. Maisie is irrelevant to him, except as a means of getting back at his ex-wife. Susanna is jealous of the natural, affectionate bond between her new husband and her daughter, perhaps because her own gestures of love come off as so empty.

When Margo asks Maisie at one point, "You like Lincoln, don't you? Maisie knows love when she sees it.

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The screenplay, by Nancy Doyne and Carroll Cartwright , avoids a sentimental tone, which helps enormously with such tricky material. Maisie does not seem like a typical "movie child," and this is a credit to the young actress playing the role, as well as to the restraint of co-directors McGehee and Siegel. Maisie is not precocious, she doesn't throw tantrums and in only one scene do we see her shed a tear. She is a thoughtful child, riding her tricycle on the terrace, staring through the window at the mysterious world of the adults in charge of her.

But then we see her in fragmentary scenes in her schoolroom, laughing and raising her hand, or staring up at a kite entangled in the wires, and we get the full scope of her experience. Children are small only in size. Intercutting the action of the film with repetitively dreamy shots of Maisie's dolls and teddy bears and mobiles underlines the silent tragedy of what is occurring. The adults, in the main, are so callous about shielding Maisie from their own ugliness, that when someone shows up and behaves in an age-appropriate way with her like Lincoln it is shocking.

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Showing Rating details. All Languages. More filters. Sort order. Vahini Nyshadham rated it liked it Jun 11, There are no discussion topics on this book yet. About James Henry. James Henry. James Henry was an Irish classical scholar and poet. He was educated by Unitarian schoolmasters and then at Trinity College, Dublin.

At age 11 he fell in love with the poetry of Virgil and got into the habit of always carrying a copy of the Aeneid in his left breast-pocket. In Trinity he graduated with the James Henry was an Irish classical scholar and poet. In Trinity he graduated with the gold medal for Classics. He then turned to medicine and until he practised as a physician in Dublin city.

In spite of his unconventionality and unorthodox views on religion and his own profession, he was very successful. He married Anne Jane Patton, from Donegal, and had three daughters, only one of whom, Katherine, born , survived infancy. His accession to a large fortune in enabled him to devote himself entirely to the absorbing occupation of his life: the study of Virgil.

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Accompanied by his wife and daughter, he visited all those parts of Europe where he was likely to find rare editions or manuscripts of the poet. When his wife died in Tyrol he continued his work with his daughter, who became quite a Virgil expert in her own right, and crossed the Alps seventeen times. After the death of his daughter in he returned to Dublin and continued his research at Trinity College, Dublin.