WHAT MAISIE KNEW is a polished and highly satisfying film about a little girl whose self-centered parents get a divorce and then wage an ongoing battle over who will get custody of their daughter.
Six year old Onata Aprile gives a wonderfully real performance as the shy, innocent, but wise little girl.
Maisie's mother, Susanna, an aging rock star, is played by Julianne Moore. Steve Coogan is Beale, her father, a Manhattan art dealer. Both parents love the child but their love doesn't translate into the care and attention Maisie needs. Instead, she becomes a pawn in their bitter conflict.
Fortunately for Maisie, her father marries Margo, her nanny, who does care about the little girl, and her mother marries Lincoln, a bartender who has an instant rapport with Maisie. But instead of being grateful for that, Susanna is jealous.
Susanna to Lincoln: You know you don't get a bonus for making her fall in love with you.
Lincoln, who's played by Alexander Skarsgard, and Margo, played by Joanna Vanderham, wind up taking on most of the responsibility for young Maisie.
Teacher: Maisie has something she'd like to share with the class.
Maisie: This is my new step father.
Lincoln (embarrassed): Hi.
Maisie: My father married my nanny so court made my mommy get married too.
Susanna desperately wants Maisie to love her but she simply won't take the time to make that happen.
Susanna: It sucks that we don't have more time together. But you know I love you more than anything, right?
Susanna kisses Maisie.
Susana: OK, go.
Lincoln takes her.
But Lincoln continues to tune right into what Maisie wants and needs. He plays with her the way her parents don't,
Lincoln: All right wise guy; let's go.
Maisie: I'm not a guy; I'm a girl.
Lincoln: OK, c'mon, wise girl.
What Maisie knows is that Lincoln and Margo care more about her than her own parents do. And this sweet movie is a cautionary tale both for parents and for people who are just thinking about having kids.
Terry Hunter, Hawaii News Now. firstname.lastname@example.org