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‘Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret’ isn’t a universal story — and that’s OK : NPR

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Rachel McAdams as Barbara Simon and Abby Ryder Fortson as Margaret Simon in Are You There God? It is Me, Margaret.

Dana Hawley/Lionsgate


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Rachel McAdams as Barbara Simon and Abby Ryder Fortson as Margaret Simon in Are You There God? It is Me, Margaret.

Dana Hawley/Lionsgate

When the lights go down on the brand new adaptation of Judy Blume’s middle-grade traditional Are You There, God? It is Me, Margaret, one of many first belongings you see is a observe in regards to the yr wherein the movie is about: “1970.” That is the yr the e-book got here out, too, so the movie leaves the story there, in its second.

It is very simple to think about Margaret up to date for 2023: Margaret with a smartphone, Margaret with the flexibility to look issues up on Wikipedia, Margaret in a recent fandom or battling a recent ethical panic. That is what you’ll do for those who wished to deal with the e-book as a “common story,” one that each woman in each period can relate to, with the trimmings modified to match the time, the place, the pop-culture references.

However it is not that, in any respect. Are You There, God? It is Me, Margaret could tackle matters which might be acquainted to a whole lot of children (and former children): puberty, new pals, points with household and exploring faith. However respecting its impression as a traditional means additionally recognizing its specificity — that many tales are relatable, however none are common. That is the story of 1 woman, at one second, with one group of pals, who experiences early adolescence in a means specific to her. And that is what makes it compelling.

Clearly, plenty of children nonetheless wait for his or her durations and check out bras and query their spirituality, however precisely what that have appears to be like like is influenced by every kind of issues. It issues what faith the child is being raised in and what faith the mother and father have been raised in. It issues what their financial standing is, what sort of neighborhood they reside in, what their household construction is, and what race they and the folks round them are, to not point out the actual character of the person child. There isn’t a common puberty story, nobody imaginative and prescient of what getting your interval for the primary time is like. Actually, after I watched the scene wherein Margaret will get hers, I turned to the pal subsequent to me and mentioned, “I did … not have that have.”

Leaving the story in 1970 additionally supplies alternatives to develop on the e-book with out displacing Margaret from her surroundings. Within the movie, the story of Margaret’s mom Barbara, fantastically performed by Rachel McAdams, is rounded out to discover the ways in which in 1970, many grownup girls’s lives have been simply as a lot in flux as their daughters’. Barbara, who has a loving and joyful marriage to Herb (Benny Safdie), is newly a stay-at-home mother. She’s throwing herself into the PTA and the perfecting of her home, seeing the thought of not “having to” work exterior the house as a luxurious. However she turns into unsure about what’s a luxurious and what’s a sacrifice, and it creates a resonant parallel between her and her looking, curious daughter. There is a great scene late within the movie wherein the 2 sit on the couch collectively, wrapped in one another’s arms, exchanging few phrases, simply sharing the expertise of their lives being difficult and painful. Committing to the e-book’s authentic second does not make the movie really feel dated; it makes it really feel lived-in by all of its characters.

The selection of setting is according to the restraint in regards to the telling of this story that author and director Kelly Fremon Craig will get good throughout the board. Margaret is about in 1970, however gently, with out distracting ranges of interval (sure, sure) element. Margaret’s mother and father have their very own distinct identities with out being sorts. Kathy Bates, as Margaret’s grandmother and Herb’s mom, is a vigorous and really humorous (although flawed) grandmother, however she’s by no means an over-the-top Wacky Grandma. The film goes simple on a whole lot of the weather Fremon Craig might have dialed up, and it is to the story’s profit.

That is simply Margaret’s story. She’s about to show 12 in 1970, and these are her mother and father and pals. That is her expertise of claiming her relationship with God, no matter her attachment to any specific organized faith. That is her first time shopping for a bra, that is her first time being kissed by a boy, and that is the way it feels to her when she realizes she has damage somebody’s emotions. She is just not each woman, she is simply Margaret, speaking to God.

This piece additionally appeared in NPR’s Pop Tradition Completely happy Hour e-newsletter. Join the e-newsletter so you do not miss the following one, plus get weekly suggestions about what’s making us joyful.

Take heed to Pop Tradition Completely happy Hour on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

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