What Maisie Knew analyzes a six-year old girl and her struggle with parental figures in an elaborately complex, emotionally layered way. Here, we’re given two parents (Julianne Moore and Steve Coogan) who treat their child as a given; when they continue to bicker and decide to divorce, she becomes a source of power for each. They are so focused on their careers, so unprepared to be parents, that their new spouses (Joanna Vanderham and Alexander Skarsgård) fall in love with Maisie (Onata Aprile). There’s a striking intimacy to Maisie and the way she handles herself independently, but now with these loving figures in her life, she hopes to find a home. I haven’t felt such an emotional resonance in years to a child character, in that more than anything I wanted Maisie to find happiness at the film’s conclusion. Not because I enjoy characters finding it, or because the film felt like it needed something uplifting, but because Maisie as a character deserves happiness more than any other character I’ve seen this year. This is one of the year’s best films.
Grade: ★★★★★ (out of 5)