Friday, April 28, 2023

Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret.

The award-winning, and often banned for its frank discussion of puberty and religion, Judy Blume 1970 young adult novel Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret. is adapted for film by writer/director Kelly Fremon Craig. Smartly choosing to keep the film in the 70s, and avoid having to deal with modern day technology that would certainly alter the story, we are introduced to sixth-grade student Margaret (Abby Ryder Fortson) facing a number of challenges as she and her parents move from New York City to New Jersey and she navigates a new grade, new friends, the arrival of puberty, and struggles with the ideas of her family's two different religions.

Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret. is what you want in a coming-of-age story with its frank acceptance and discussion of the subject matter that adults may have trouble dealing with but kids need to hear. Far from toothless, as films of this genre can often be, it has something to say about a specific time in a young girl's life.

The title from the story comes from the lead character's questions to God about life, family, friends, and her yearning not to be left behind when her classmates begin physcially developing and getting their period. Over the course of the film Margaret will offer several prayers to God in increasingly desperate pleas while the story takes care not to offer any judgement on Margaret or her choices, allowing the character to navigate the uncertainty of burgeoning adolescence as we root for her to come out unscathed (or as unscathed as any preteen in her situation could).

The supporting roles of the adults in the film each fill a crucial role with Rachel McAdams and Benny Safdie as Margaret's loving, but at times clueless, parents, Kathy Bates as the opinionated grandmother, and Echo Kellum as Margaret's teacher who would challenge her in ways no adult had up until this point in her life. We also get Margaret's clique of friends (Elle Graham, Amari Alexis Price, and Katherine Mallen Kupferer) and the boy (Aidan Wojtak-Hissong) she starts developing a crush on. However, it's really Fortson who is asked to carry the bulk of the film and proves more than up to the challenge imbuing Margaret with spirit and heart. While admittedly not the target audience for the film, I found it a funny, poignant, and sweet examination of puberty which all can enjoy.

Watch the trailer
  • Title: Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret.
  • IMDb: link

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