Synopsis: When her family moves from the city to the suburbs, 11-year-old Margaret navigates new friends, feelings, and the beginning of adolescence.
Director: Kelly Fremon Craig
Stars: Abby Ryder Forston, Rachel McAdams Kathy Bates
Judy Blume is an icon. Her books have been read by millions and capture the essence of adolescence at its core. One of, if not her most popular book comes to the big screen. Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. was a must read for many, especially young women. Admittedly I had read several of her books, Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing and Superfudge. I learned about ‘Slam Books’ reading Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great, but I had not read Margaret.
The movie comes to life with Abby Ryder Forston in the titular role. Many will recall Forston from Ant Man playing Scott Lang’s daughter Cassie.
Margaret and her parents, played by Rachel McAdams and Benny Safdie, move from their home in New York City to the New Jersey suburbs, much to the chagrin of Margaret’s grandmother, played by Kathy Bates.
Margaret is a sweet girl who is close to her parents and grandmother and is open to starting a new life in Jersey. As the film is through her gaze, we see her dealing with obstacles of pre-teen life; boys, fitting in, training bras etc.
She is also navigating through the world of fitting in and dealing with bullies. Again, the source material captures what someone in that age group would potentially be dealing with.
One issue that is also explored is religion. Her father is Jewish, and her mother is Christian, and this has had a strain on her parents’ relationship, especially in dealing with her maternal grandparents.
Judy Blume, who serves as a producer on the film, made one of the best decisions by getting Kelly Fremon Craig to direct it. Years ago, her film The Edge of Seventeen, was nothing short of brilliant as she explored life through the lens of someone a few years older than Margaret. Having tackled something similar Fremom Craig was in a unique position to adapt this title and bring its true essence to the big screen.
When the book was released in the 1970’s it was well loved but also controversial. The honest discussions about sex and religion were considered too profane for young readers and was constantly looked at as a frequently challenged book. In 2023 there may not be boycotts against the movie, but the themes are still very strong and serious.
The same way her books are required reading this movie should be required viewing. It joins a finite list of young adult films that have been released that speak so clearly to a young audience and will be extremely relatable.
Many times, one reads the book and sees the film and is disappointed. Kelly Fremon Craig’s incredible adaptation of a Judy Blumer classic is an exception to that.