After garnering widespread praise (and an Oscar nomination for screenwriting) for his 2000 directorial debut You Can Count on Me Kenneth Lonergan was in-demand. In September 2005 the writer/director began production on a follow-up feature: Margaret which touted Anna Paquin Matt Damon Mark Ruffalo Matthew Broderick Allison Janney as well as legendary filmmakers Sydney Pollack and Anthony Minghella (The English Patient) as producers. The movie wrapped production in a few months time. The buzz was already growing.
Now six years later the movie is finally hitting theaters. So…what took so long?
The journey to this point hasn't been an easy one and it shows. If a film's shot footage is a block of granite and the editing process is the careful carving that turns it into a statuesque work of art Margaret feels like it was attacked by a blind man with a jackhammer. The film is a cinematic disaster a mishmash of shallow characters overwrought politics and sporadic tones. The story follows Lisa Coen (Paquin) a New York teenager who finds herself drowning in chaos after distracting a bus driver (Ruffalo) causing him to hit and kill a pedestrian (Janney). Initially Lisa tells the police it was all an accident but as time passes regret takes hold and the girl embarks on a mission to take down the man she now regards as a culprit. That's just the tip of the iceberg–along the way Lisa deals with everyday teen stuff: falling for her geometry teacher (Damon) combating her anxiety-ridden actress mother losing her virginity dabbling in drugs debating 9/11 and the Iraq War cultivating a relationship with her father in LA and more. There are about eight seasons of television stuffed into Margaret but even a two and a half hour run time can't make it all click.
For more on Margaret check out Indie Seen: Margaret the Long Lost Anna Paquin/Matt Damon Movie
The Ferris Bueller's Day Off star is playing the lead role in The Starry Messenger, about a middle-aged astronomer who falls in love with a younger woman.
But the actor stunned fans when the curtain went up on Monday (26Oct09) for the show's first preview, when he repeatedly forgot his lines.
A source told the New York Daily News, "It was an overall mess. He kept apologising under his breath after he forgot a line and everyone in the audience began to feel awkward."
Broderick's poor memory prompted the show's producers to postpone the official opening of the play by a week, to 23 November (09) - but according to the New York Post, it's not the actor who is at fault, it's his pal, The Starry Messenger's writer and director Kenneth Lonergan.
A Broadway insider says, "Matthew doesn't know what he's doing because Kenny doesn't know what he's doing. Kenny has lost his way."
The tabloid claims rehearsals for the production have been "adrift" and "unfocused" when they take place and Lonergan is frequently absent or late for the run-throughs.
However, Geoff Rich, executive director of The New Group, which is producing the play, insists there are no plans to oust Lonergan, despite admitting the production has experienced some difficulties.
He says, "There is no consideration of a new director taking over. Is there a little bit of chaos and confusion? Yes. But there has been on every production of every play that we have produced here."
These have not been first problems for The Starry Messenger - veteran actor Jonathan Hadary reportedly "left in disgust" when he walked out on the show in early October (09). Representatives for the play officially stated Hadary had to quit due to scheduling difficulties.