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Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret Review

God does not answer cries for help, nor does he offer anything to anyone named Margaret. His echoes of love and joy do not reach the inner rings of hell where Margaret Thatcher burns. Thankfully Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret has nothing to do with power-hungry turns of the 20th century. It does offer up plenty in the way of coming-of-age sweetness, and the sickly turnaround is inevitable. Hold firm, stick with it. We do not need to be in the real world at all times, although if the alternative is the likes of Paddington, it is better to stare down the coal face through gritted teeth. Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret offers up something fresh though, more particularly, something with the great Kathy Bates in it. 

Fun in the American son must be absorbed, even though the joys of summer camp are not common to British shores. Understanding other cultures, that is half the battle with the coming-of-age setup. Colourful surroundings, twee and supportive soundtrack scratch moments and a jolly old time which sets us viewers up for an emotional downturn. Kelly Fremon Craig has been down this route before with the admirably fine The Edge of Seventeen. Here she enlists the same formula and some slicker charms with a hefty cast to continue it all on. Rachel McAdams, Benny Safdie and Bates make an appearance just in time to hear Norman Greenbaum’s inevitable record scratch moment. Fear the silence.  

Moving in youth is a fear, moving when tired of your surroundings is liberation. Maybe it is being unconvinced by the jolly swathes of hopeful positivity. Even then, Abby Ryder Fortson breaks free from the Ant-Man endless setlist and gets a chance to show how great a talent she is. Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret is worth watching for the chemistry Fortson and McAdams display. It comes and goes, sure, but is instrumental in convincing of the family unit as they career away from familiar surroundings. To move is to release and to release is to leave behind. Sometimes this is good, a gift and a great endeavour which cleanses the soul and mind. For those developing their brains, it proves taxing and troubling, as the nicely directed bits and pieces of Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, soon shows. We can turn to the divine if we like, they will not pack away our record player for us. 

Taking solace in the comfort of an unspoken entity, there is a charm to Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, although it is not used as often as it could be. Adolescence takes hold at all the wrong times. New feelings toward family, friends and the future. The big and terrifying three. More capable, more likeable, more everything for the state of Craig’s directing styles. Talented, certainly, and absolutely, it brings about a positive message of never feeling in step with those who are perceived as grown up and in control. Nobody is in control, life is a mess and everything is falling apart always. The sooner viewers of Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, realise this, the better they will feel for it. Craig’s direction is a solid pull, the desperation which comes in growing up, whether it is learning to boil an egg or figure out how to apply for council tax. Life comes at you fast. Doesn’t stop either. No pause button.  

Ewan Gleadow
Ewan Gleadow
Editor in Chief at Cult Following | News and culture journalist at Clapper, Daily Star, NewcastleWorld, Daily Mirror | Podcast host of (Don't) Listen to This | Disaster magnet

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