What Maisie Knew

DRAMA; 1hr 49min

STARRING: Julianne Moore, Alexander Skarsgård, Onata Aprile, Joanna Vanderham, Steve Coogan

Little girl lost: Moore (with Aprile)

As six-year-old Maisie, Aprile has the piercing presence of strength in the making. Maisie’s wealthy, de facto parents, rocker Susanna (Moore) and art dealer Beale (Coogan), are spit-firing through a savage split that strands their daughter in the centre of a crushing vortex. Suzanna and Beale are fundamentally loving yet criminally selfish; confronted again and again by their carelessly profane neglect, Maisie attempts to batten down her bearings. Playing hard in a game of one-upmanship, Beale marries Maisie’s forgiving nanny, Margo (Vanderham), and Suzanna fires back by marrying easygoing bartender Lincoln (Skarsgård).


The incidental feel of co-directors David Siegel and Scott McGehee’s modernised reinvention of Henry James’s 1897 novel, cannily adapted by Carroll Cartwright and Nancy Doyne, comes with a stinging perspective. This is how it feels for a child caught in fracturing adult cross-fire, while still patiently set on remaining a child. In the end, as victims of their mutual antipathy, Suzanna and Beale are similarly helpless and it falls to their newly empowered little girl to choose her future path.