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What Maisie Knew Review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 4.0

    out of 100

    Generally favorable reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 100

    out of 100

    The New York Times A.O. Scott

    What Maisie Knew lays waste to the comforting dogma that children are naturally resilient, and that our casual, unthinking cruelty to them can be answered by guilty and belated displays of affection. It accomplishes this not by means of melodrama, but by a mixture of understatement and thriller-worthy suspense.

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  • 100

    out of 100

    USA Today Claudia Puig

    Who would have thought that one of the most provocative and affecting films made about the fallout from 21st century divorce would have emanated from a 19th century novel?

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  • 50

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly

    In this bleak indie bummer that confuses hopelessness with depth, they're really nothing more than selfish, one-dimensional monsters. Maisie's better off without them.

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  • 60

    out of 100

    Village Voice Alan Scherstuhl

    The film is admirably committed to simulating the messy experience of life as a real Maisie might live it. But sometimes, as she's tuckered out on her exquisite linens beneath gorgeous exposed brick and shelves of handcrafted toys, Maisie's world feels easier to admire than it is to worry over.

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  • 70

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter John DeFore

    A broken-family melodrama with a minimum of histrionics, Scott McGehee's and David Siegel's What Maisie Knew begins from scenes that will be familiar to most viewers who've witnessed a custody battle. Things get pretty orchestrated from that familiar scenario onward, but never to the point of unbelievability.

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For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 15+

Wrenching drama about child custody can spark discussion.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that What Maisie Knew is a moving, sometimes disturbing drama that examines the world through the lens of 6-year-old Maisie, a downtown New York City girl whose glamorous parents (Julianne Moore and Steve Coogan) are breaking up loudly and painfully in front of her. Some scenes may be difficult to stomach, especially for kids whose parents are going through or have undergone a divorce or separation. Maisie is often shown in heartbreakingly neglectful situations -- at school, with neither parent remembering to pick her up; being shuttled back and forth between apartments; etc. She also sees her parents fight and swear ("f--k," "s--t") at each other, and adults drink and smoke around her/other children.

  • Families can talk about how What Maisie Knew portrays the experiences of children whose parents are in the middle of an acrimonious divorce or separation. Do you think it's realistic?
  • Talk to your kids about what divorce/separation is -- and the impact it can have on a family.
  • What makes a family? What makes a good parent? What does this film contribute to that discussion?

The good stuff
  • message true1

    Messages: Separations can be very hard on children, especially when their parents aren't placing the kids' best interests first. But the world is full of kind-hearted people who are able to shower these kids with the care and attention they need. And though there is heartbreak, there's also hope.

  • rolemodels true1

    Role models: Lincoln and Margo are the unexpected bright points in Maisie's difficult, though privileged, life. And Maisie herself is a wonder, able to still find whimsy and good in a world that's filled with emotional neglect.

What to watch for
  • violence false2

    Violence: Parents fight and curse at each other in front of their young child. Sometimes they place their child in danger by neglecting her.

  • sex false2

    Sex: Allusions to sex, rather than actual sex scenes. A man flirts with and later marries his child's babysitter; his ex-girlfriend marries a young man she just met. Some kissing.

  • language false3

    Language: Strong language, sometimes used around a 6-year-old, includes "f--k," "s--t," and "a--hole." A woman gives a man the finger while their child is in plain sight.

  • consumerism false2

    Consumerism: Labels/products seen include Apple and Pyrex. Nothing excessive.

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false2

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Adults drink and smoke socially, sometimes around children.