One of the saddest prisoners in the "lost movies" dungeon is about to be liberated. Against some odds, Kenneth Lonergan's Margaret is finally headed to cinemas.
As well as being a playwright and the writer-director of You Can Count on Me, Lonergan was a writer on Scorsese's Gangs of New York and, oddly, The Rocky and Bullwinkle Movie. His second film as director, Margaret, had a hefty script, a winning cast and a truly ambitious scope, and when production wrapped five years ago or so, it was one of my most hotly anticipated pictures in the pipeline.
And then it never came out… And then we heard about legal battles, between distributor and producer… And then Lonergan started making new edits, new versions… And none of those came out… And then it was hard to know who to believe, but stories were circulating that the director was trapped in a kind of spiral, always revising his film but never happy…
One thing after another, rumour upon rumour, hardly ever an official word or a named source. I got a hold of the script, read it a couple of times – it was dense, it needed a good chewing – and more than ever, I wanted to see the finished film.
Years passed. Matt Damon, Anna Paquin, Matthew Broderick, Olivia Thirlby all made other movies, all changed, grew, almost got away from the film. Sometimes they'd be asked if they knew what was going on with it, and usually they'd say that they'd heard something was happening, that a new version was working out. Nothing solid, though.
Until now. Anne Thompson has good news. All we've got to go on is a little whisp of a promise, but Fox Searchlight have told her:
We do have a finished cut by Lonergan and we plan to release the film sometime in 2011.
A finished cut. I wonder if it's just Fox Searchlight who think it's done, or if Lonergan does too? And how much will the finished film resemble the complex screenplay that I read those years ago?