Pumpkin Person rating: 9/10
As my vacation finally comes to an end, I just watched Margaret, a 2011 drama film written and directed by Kenneth Lonergan. The film is ostensibly about a 17-year-old hybridized Ashekanzi New Yorker (Lisa Cohen played by Anna Helene Paquin) who struggles to overcome the guilt she feels about helping to cause a woman’s death.
The film paints a fascinating portrait of American Jewry.
In school, Lisa is a skilled debater (especially on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that she feels so passionate about-see ethnic genetic interests) but she is failing geometry, despite having a crush on her Gentile Math teacher (played by Matt Damon who ironically played a huge anti-Semite in 1992’s School Ties). Once again we see the typical Ashkenazi and typical female pattern of verbal IQ > spatial IQ. Lisa being both Jewish and female, shows this pattern quite acutely. Despite sucking at geometry, she still manages to make her math teacher feel inferior by implying that growing up in fly-over country, he’s probably ridden a lot of horses, and is out of place teaching at a private school full of “over-privileged liberal Jews”. “Was this the summit of your life’s ambition?” she asks him condescendingly.
The most endearing character is Lisa’s single mother, who struggles to bond with her temperamental daughter, and is so grateful when Lisa shows up to watch her in the New York plays she stars in. The mother starts dating an Italian guy, but things end badly when she invites him out to dinner with Lisa and one of their friends. The three Jewish females are horrified to discover that he sympathizes with the Palestinians, and one of them is so disgusted she throws whine in his face.
“That, is the Jewish response,” he says, wiping the whine from his face.
After dumping the Italian guy for perceived anti-Semitism, Lisa’s mother realizes the only love she needs in her life is her daughter, and in a heart-warming scene, the two females break into tears and start hugging while feeling the emotion of an opera they’re attending.
Despite this being a huge box-office flop, generating less than $47 thousand despite a production budget of $14 million, I strongly recommend watching this if you’re a movie buff, especially the three hour version, which I assume is even better than the 150 minute version I saw.