I just saw the movie âWhat Maisie Knew,â based on the novel by Henry James about the impact on a child of the divorce and remarriages of her self-involved parents.Â As every reviewer has mentioned, the young actor playing the title character is a gem. Unburdened by the phony precocity of too many kid roles in movies and on TV, she sounds like a normal, smart six-year-old â but with the ability, innate or learned, to engage with just a look.Â You care for her, you root for her, and, if you are one who cries in movies, you will almost certainly do thatfor her.
But the parents are a different matter, and here is where I am not sure the movie succeeds. The mother and father are such monstrous narcissists that I donât think any but the most self-critical divorcing parent will see any hint of himself or herself in their characters.Â Iâm not sure they should â [SPOILER ALERT] I donât think I have come across parents who, late for a business meeting, would drop a six-year-old off on the sidewalk on a busy street in Manhattan with no one there to meet her. Given that weâre not living in the time of Henry James â whose story covered largely unexplored territory âÂ the subject of divorce is entirely too familiar. Â Its retelling should say something new and true. Does this?