Monday 19 February 2024

Movie Review: Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret (2023)

Genre: Comedy Drama  
Director: Kelly Fremon Craig  
Starring: Rachel McAdams, Abby Ryder Fortson, Kathy Bates, Benny Safdie  
Running Time: 106 minutes  

Synopsis: In 1970, 11-year-old Margaret (Abby Ryder Fortson) is upset when her parents Barbara and Herb (Rachel McAdams and Benny Safdie) relocate the family from Manhattan to New Jersey. Herb's mom Sylvia (Kathy Bates) stays behind in New York. At her new school, Margaret is befriended by classmate Nancy (Elle Graham), who rules over a small clique. While maintaining short conversations with God, Margaret navigates pre-teen topics including her first kiss, first crush, first period, and first bra. She also stumbles upon a religion-driven dispute involving Barbara's long-estranged parents.

What Works Well: The adaptation of Judy Blume's young adult book sparkles with the humorous awkwardness inherent in the maze of burgeoning womanhood. In the expansive suburbs Margaret finds a bigger world opening up, where relationships with others, discovering more about herself, and sharpening her own opinions become imperatives in the complex growing up process. Peer pressure, physical changes, and understanding parents as people all add to the challenge. Director and writer Kelly Fremon Craig uses breezy pacing to sprint across a lot of ground, helped immensely by a wonderful Abby Ryder Forston performance as Margaret. Rachel McAdams contributes to the warm glow of an anchored mother-daughter relationship. 

What Does Not Work As Well: While not all of Margaret's questions are answered, the beautifully executed ending is just another step in the journey, and perfectly consistent with the reality of life's untidy corners.

Conclusion: Growing up can be hard, weird, and oh so funny.

All Ace Black Movie Blog reviews are here.

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