The rallying cry for “Margaret” continues from certain quarters of the critical community, with a #teammargaret hashtag now tracking its way across the Twittersphere. And the push for the film has resulted in some movement. New York City and Los Angeles critics will apparently be getting additional screenings for awards season consideration (although, they had press screenings already prior to the film’s theatrical release in both cities), with Boston and Chicago to follow, and there is word bubbling that DVD screeners are being prepared for those in cities who did not get the film (though with voting deadlines fast approaching, that remains to be seen).
But the chatter behind the movie — which has increased as the movie opens in the U.K. this weekend — has gone a bit overboard in some instances. The Guardian in particular has accused Fox Searchlight of “burying” the film when the truth is likely far more complicated. With years spent in legal battles and editing suites, despite what some would have you believe, a cool critical reception (64% on Rotten Tomatoes and 58 on Metacritic) combined with a tepid box office performance (though yes, it’s easily argued Fox Searchlight fell asleep on the marketing) has made this a tough release for the studio. In short, it’s likely the film’s delays cost the studio more than they had anticipated and printing up screeners for a movie that didn’t gain a critical consensus probably didn’t make much sense.
And in a way, it still doesn’t. We understand the desire for critics, guilds and voting folks to see as much as they can before weighing in their votes for the Best Of The Year, but as we stated before, those awards come and go almost as soon as they are announced. They are ultimately a small part of a film’s legacy. “Margaret” certainly won’t be in the Golden Globes or Oscar race, and while it’s nice that there’s a push to get the messily masterful film some additional attention, we have to once again assert it’s the director’s cut we should be urging Fox Searchlight to release. And now, director Kenneth Lonergan confirms the unused, longer Martin Scorsese edit of the film is closest to the version that meets his full intentions, though he supports the current iteration.
“I support this cut wholeheartedly and want people to see and like it, because the actors deserve to be seen and appreciated for their amazing work,” he wrote in his statement to Time. “But while I fully support the released cut, it’s also no secret that I tried to get a subsequent version released, which Marty Scorsese very graciously helped with, which even more fully executes my complete intentions — a cut that I still hope will someday, somehow see the light of day.”
Screeners are certainly nice things to get, and there is lots to love (and an equal amount that doesn’t work) in the current version of “Margaret.” But if we know there is a longer cut out there, one that much more closely (if not completely) realizes the movie Lonergan set out to make all those years ago, this is what the critics and movie lovers should be pushing for. Awards, recogniton and top ten lists are nice, but we think Lonergan would prefer people eventually got to see the movie he wanted to make in the first place. And that’s a petition we’d gladly sign.