What Maisie Knew

What Maisie KnewSometimes in life, a person from outside of the family – teacher, nanny, neighbor – becomes a parent figure for a child, even though actual parents are physically present. What Maisie Knew is this kind of story. I also had a person like this.

My mother used to hire a house cleaner when I was little. We would discuss books, I would ask her meaning of adult jokes I overheard, we would tell each other scary stories of campfire variety and just hang out together while she was working. On the other hand, I don’t remember having a substantial conversation about anything with my mother, despite us living in one apartment. Nor do I remember waiting for her to come from work much.

In the film, the main difference between biological parents and ‘substitute’ parents is that later offer their full attention to the child, while former are always somewhere else,  physically or mentally. Today I also stumbled upon an article in the New York Times touching this subject. Since quotes from important individuals make writing look more respectable, I’ll borrow one by Simone Weil: “Attention is the rares and purest form of generosity.”

I often lament about unrealistic “Hollywood endings” in movies. This applies to both major studio releases and small independent films and can happen in the beginning/middle of the film as well. There’s often a character or event which disturbs equilibrium and causes heroes to go on a journey. Recent examples include Ruby Sparks, The Perks of Being a Wallflower and (500) Days of Summer. Often they are stereotypes, like Manic Pixie Dream Girl, but they can be original and fresh too. The constant property is, they hardly ever happen in real life.

Without those extraordinary agents, cinema would be too much like real life: uninspiring, mundane and often sad. They enable pleasure of escapism, but they also create unrealistic expectations of life, the idea that something should happen and make things right. Relieving responsibility for your own life is the surest way to avoid change. But for once, I don’t mind. In this film, I am glad to have a Hollywood ending. Without it, the story would be too damn depressing.

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2 Responses to What Maisie Knew

  1. Jennifer says:

    Sometimes the movies that are closer to home with us can get too depressing to face. I usually do okay, realism doesn’t bother me, but we all watch movies for different reasons, depending on where we are in life.

    I identify with the basics of your experience growing up; my dad was not around, my mom was too busy working and keeping the family afloat to interact, and I didn’t have the adult figure you had to engage me, so I learned how to be alone alot. I’m glad you had someone; I find it is something I’m struggling with as an adult even now, not having that kind of parental influence in my life. Then again, it leads me to watch movies regularly and think about them, so… I guess that’s the tradeoff! 🙂

    • Nikita says:

      Well, it didn’t last long for me and it always leaves you wishing for more. Even now I sometimes notice myself looking for other people to fill the parental roles.

      I love how you manage to stay positive, even on a subject like this! Agree, movies are totally worth it (:

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