'Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret' evaluation: The basic novel is now a basic film

Overlook spring: It is Judy Blume season.

The beloved writer of books like Endlessly… and Deenie is the topic of the candy new documentary Judy Blume Endlessly, which simply premiered on Prime after making a splash at Sundance. Now, her iconic 1970 novel Are You There God? It is Me, Margaret is arriving on the large display with an outstanding adaptation that continues this seasonal celebration.

For many years, Blume wouldn’t permit Hollywood to adapt the story of Margaret Simon, an 11-year-old woman who talks candidly to God about every thing from bra sizes to her personal questions on faith. Fortunately for Blume — and audiences in all places — writer-director Kelly Fremon Craig does Blume’s novel justice after which some. In her palms, Are You There God? It is Me, Margaret turns into a movie that captures the importance and humor of the supply materials, together with its most essential high quality: its empathy.

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Are You There God? It is Me, Margaret is an prompt coming-of-age basic.

Four sixth grade girls form a kickline in front of a painted background of a stage.

Abby Ryder Fortson, Amari Worth, Elle Graham, and Katherine Kupferer in “Are You There God? It is Me, Margaret.”
Credit score: Dana Hawley

Are You There God? It is Me, Margaret could also be a brand new launch, but it surely already deserves a spot within the canon of contemporary coming-of-age movies alongside motion pictures like Girl Fowl, Turning Purple, and Fremon Craig’s directorial debut, The Fringe of Seventeen.

Like all these movies, Are You There God? It is Me, Margaret lovingly explores life’s greatest adjustments. The film begins with an enormous shift, as Margaret (Abby Ryder Fortson) and her mother and father Barbara (Rachel McAdams) and Herb (Benny Safdie) transfer to New Jersey from New York Metropolis. There, she makes new associates like Nancy (Elle Graham), who invitations Margaret to hitch her secret membership, together with Janie (Amari Worth) and Gretchen (Katherine Kupferer). The group talks durations, bras, and boys, and it is not lengthy earlier than Margaret yearns for her personal physique to start out altering, and quick.

Fremon Craig directs scenes of Margaret looking for bras or training making use of sanitary pads with a refreshing frankness, one which displays Margaret’s nervousness in addition to Blume’s honesty about “taboo” matters like durations. And whereas there are many laughs available from these moments, they’re by no means at Margaret’s expense. We’re virtually at all times in Margaret’s perspective, dwelling out her forays into womanhood whereas concurrently reliving our personal adolescence. As you watch Margaret uncover what everybody learns — that puberty is a bizarre time — you may wish to attain by way of the display and provides her an indication that she’ll be all proper.

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Margaret spends a lot of the film in search of these sorts of indicators from God. She has an advanced relationship with faith: Her mom is Christian and her father is Jewish, they usually determined that Margaret could have no faith till she grows up and decides what she needs for herself. All through the movie, she explores varied faiths in an try to search out what feels proper, however she normally finally ends up coming again to easily speaking to God in her room.

The phrase “Are you there God? It is me, Margaret” turns into a mantra of types for her as she prays, both by talking or by way of voiceover. Ryder Fortson, whose comedic chops cement her as a star on the rise, delivers the titular phrase in a different way every time, imbuing it with concern, exasperation, and in a single specific case, fury. It is an efficient motif made even higher by her great efficiency. Even when Margaret does one thing incorrect, we’re together with her each step of the way in which.

Are You There God? It is Me, Margaret expands on the novel — with glorious outcomes.

A mother and her daughter in the bra section of a department store.

Rachel McAdams and Abby Ryder Fortson in “Are You There God? It is Me, Margaret.”
Credit score: Dana Hawley

Blume’s novel is firmly rooted in Margaret’s expertise, and for essentially the most half, so is the film. Nonetheless, Fremon Craig additionally takes the alternatives supplied by adaptation to discover completely different views and additional flesh out the characters of Barbara and Margaret’s grandmother Sylvia (Kathy Bates).

The Simons’ transfer to New Jersey proves difficult for each girls. Sylvia misses having her household within the metropolis, lamenting over the cellphone that her life expectancy is certain to drop now that they are gone. Barbara tries to regulate to not working by helping the PTA at Margaret’s college. Nonetheless, she rapidly finds that that path is just not as fulfilling as she would have favored. As she does with Margaret, Fremon Craig treats Barbara’s and Sylvia’s struggles with equal components humor and understanding. The generational take a look at the Simon household is a well timed reminder that each stage of life comes with its personal set of challenges, in addition to its personal set of victories.

Bates and particularly McAdams give beautiful performances that complement Ryder Fortson’s. In a single standout scene, Barbara tells Margaret about how her mother and father disapproved of her interfaith marriage, which is why they by no means see them. Though that particular dialogue is not in Blume’s novel, it proves completely important to the movie, intertwining Barbara’s personal familial considerations with Margaret’s quest to search out non secular that means.

Adaptational adjustments like Barbara and Margaret’s non secular discuss seem all through Are You There God? It is Me, Margaret, however they by no means take away from the important thing themes and joys of the unique textual content. Fremon Craig and her complete solid and crew have created a considerate tackle Blume’s work, diving into every thing from difficult feminine friendships to first kisses to the stresses of “creating” earlier or later than anybody else. To have a coming-of-age movie this good is actually nothing in need of a miracle.

Are You There God? It is Me, Margaret hits theaters Apr. 28.


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