Arriving in UK cinemas on Friday 19th May is the coming-of-age comedy-drama, Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. Based on the book of the same name by Judy Blume, the movie – written and directed by Kelly Fremon Craig – stars Abby Ryder Fortson, Rachel McAdams, Kathy Bates, Benny Safdie, and Elle Graham.
In the movie, the year is 1970 and eleven-year-old Margaret Simon returns from summer camp to discover that her parents are moving out of their home in New York City, to relocate to New Jersey. Margaret’s dad, Herb, has got a new job, so they are switching city living for suburban life, and the move is imminent.
Upon hearing the news, Margaret is upset about the situation, as the relocation will mean saying goodbye to her friends and everything she has ever known. This terrifies Margaret, and in a moment of deep concern, she prays to God to either cancel the move, or make life easier for her in New Jersey.
Much to Margaret’s disappointment, God does not cancel the move, and she is soon on her way to a new house and a new chapter. From here she gets to experience all the trials and tribulations of pre-pubescent life, while making new friends and attending a new school.
Along the way, Margaret continues to communicate with God about all her hopes and fears. She also begins to question how she feels about religion, as a daughter of Jewish and Christian backgrounds.
Gentle, sweet, and incredibly likeable, Are Your There God? It’s Me, Margaret is a delightful picture about the difficulties of going through adolescence. It’s about a time in life when change feels both constant and confusing, and everyone around you appears to be moving at a much faster pace than you.
At the centre of the story is Margaret Simon – a good-natured girl, who is trying to navigate her way through the peaks and troughs. She’s doing her best, and adjusting to change as well as the next person, but it’s not easy.
Margaret’s constant companion in this journey is God, who she speaks to throughout the movie as a way of explaining her thoughts. Although she doesn’t get a response from God, she never really expects to – the mere act of talking through her problems is enough for her.
This ongoing narration helps inform audiences about Margaret’s feelings. as well as her journey, and allows for some mild moments of humour too. Margaret’s comments to God offer nice little pauses in the narrative to reflect on events around her, and are fun little inclusions.
Leading the movie is Abby Ryder Forston, who is excellent in the role of Margaret. The young actress brings charm and curiosity to the role and is a joy to watch.
Offering solid support are Rachel McAdams and Benny Safdie as Margaret’s parents, Barbara and Herb, as well as Kathy Bates as grandma, Sylvia. Bates doesn’t get a great deal of screen time in the film, but she makes the most of what she has, selling every moment.
And then to add to this mix is Elle Graham, who plays the role of Margaret’s new best friend, Nancy Wheeler. As with lead actress Abby Ryder Forston, Graham is perfectly cast in the movie, and brings a bit of sass and confidence to the role of Nancy.
While the casting of Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret is very much a strong point, it’s just one of the many things this film does well. From its visual aesthetic, which effortlessly captures the ’70s setting, to its tone and themes, the movie excels.
The soundtrack to Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret is also really good. The tunes used in the film are a jukebox of hits from the ’60s and ’70s, covering artists such as Dusty Springfield and Harry Belafonte, while the score is the work of Hans Zimmer.
Writer/director Kelly Fremon Craig has put this film together with care and attention, and the right cast and crew in place, and this is clear for all to see. The picture works from the moment it begins all the way through to the end, and the whole thing offers up a nostalgic and entertaining look back to the past.
I often hear people use the phrase, “they don’t make movies like they used to”, which is something I find difficult to disagree with. The truth is, the movie industry has changed over the past few decades, and films such as Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret don’t tend to crop up all that often.
However, when they do appear, and they are done as well as this one, then it’s worth taking note. Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret may be one small picture in a sea of franchises, but it sails along nicely and it offers up such an enjoyable ride.
If you can spare the time, take a couple of hours out of your busy day, grab some popcorn, and allow yourself to be transported back to the past. Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret is lovely, and it presents the perfect way to experience being a kid all over again without the need for a time machine.
Thank you for taking the time to read this review on It’s A Stampede!. For more reviews, check out the recommended reads below.
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