In the fall of 2005, celebrated writer/director Kenneth Lonergan started shooting his sophomore feature Margaret, a drama about the aftermath of a tragic bus accident featuring a cast that included Anna Paquin, Matt Damon and Mark Ruffalo. Six years later, the movie is finally being released in theaters. What exactly took so long? Well, it depends on who you ask. One version of events paints Lonergan as an indecisive perfectionist that was unable to deliver a cut he was satisfied with. Another version points the finger at one of the producers, claiming he attempted to encroach on the director's contractual "final cut" provision and didn't pay his share of the movie's budget. Either way, Margaret remained trapped in limbo until Lonergan finally came up with a cut that he and the studio were ready to release. The only question now is will it be worth the protracted wait? We'll have to see come Friday, but in the meantime, here's a scorecard of some of the other recent movies that have suffered similarly long delays before hitting U.S. screens.
After a nearly six-year stint in the editing room, Kenneth Lonergan's long-delayed sophomore feature Margaret finally arrives in theaters still feeling somewhat unfinished. The version of the film that opens in (extremely) limited release today is rife with jarring tonal shifts, clunky dialogue, overly mannered performances and least a half-dozen subplots that lead nowhere. And yet despite -- or maybe, because of -- the movie's free-form messiness, it possesses a vitality that more carefully manicured studio movies, even one like last week's exceptionally well-crafted Moneyball, sometimes lack. Margaret is a movie that demands the viewer's attention and engagement throughout its sprawling two-and-a-half hour runtime, as Lonergan spins his tale without directing us as to how we should react to or feel about what's unfolding onscreen. It's only in the film's moving, but perhaps too-literal, final scene that his intentions become clear. Margaret is a music-less opera, complete with screaming matches that resemble arias and plenty of heightened emotion and melodrama played against the beautiful backdrop that is New York City.