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Tuesday’s child

OUT NOW! WHAT MAISIE KNEW hinges on a nuanced performance from a tiny girl with big maturity.

Using Henry James’ 19th-century classic as a template, “What Maisie Knew” directors Scott McGehee and David Siegel make a convincing case for empowerment.

Tellingly, the Maisie of their film (an astounding Aprile) is younger even than her literary model, a child whose mother (Moore) has morphed into a sexily run-down, self-involved rock star. Determined to go one better than the ex who bedded, then wedded the nanny, she marries the much younger Lincoln (Skarsgård) and gets the huff when he turns out to be the better role model for her daughter.

With little significant dialogue involving Maisie, it’s up to Aprile and DP Giles Nuttgens to render an intuitive understanding of the young girl’s ability to strike a balance – not only between her parents, but also between age-inappropriate maturity and the joys of childhood.

Stoutly resistant (for the time being) to people messing with her mind, this kid makes all the right choices.

What Maisie Knew | Directed by Scott McGehee, David Siegel (USA 2012) with Julianne Moore, Alexander Skarsgård, Onata Aprile. Starts Jul 11.

Originally published in Issue #118, July/August 2013.