Uncomfortable and heartbreaking yet light hearted and comical; What Maisie Knew is a touching tale of divorce, custody, sacrifice and happiness. Onata Aprile is Maisie, the leading figure of this film, driving each scene through to the next with a powerful presence. Maisie is a sweet, naive and innocent child but her parents are far from that whilst they are in the throws of divorce. Julianne Moore embraces the role of the rockstar mother and father Steve Coogan is a business man, jetting off to London every couple of weeks. As different as Maisie’s parents appear, they both share a love for their child but they also don’t fully understand the role of being a parent.
As both parents fight for the custody of Maisie they use her as a weapon in their divorce. Despite the harsh language in the presence of their child, both mother and father constantly highlight the fact they love Maisie, yet when it is their turn to care for her, they dump her with their new babysitter (their new husband/wife). Instead of caring for their child as a parent, they both believe they can win Maisie over through money and stardom.
The light hearted, contended yet somewhat cliched ending is expected but still a pleasing one. From parent to parent, the city to the beach, old to young, What Maisie Knew is a touching yet heartbreaking film which I think almost everyone with a slightly dysfunctional family can relate to.
Review by LiveWire Film Critic, Megan Al-Ghailani (August ’13)