In a significant departure from the novella and as much for expediency, we do not see Maisie enter her teenage years, nor make conclusive decisions about whom she stays with. In contrast to the novella where Maisie ends up with the responsible Nanny, true to the turn of the 19th century, true to our age of step parenting, we leave Maisie at seven with both her existentially lost biological parents and her step-parents lovingly in the picture. In one of the few comic relief scenes, Maisie brings Lincoln to ‘Show and Tell’, and introduces him as her Stepdad. Not to be outdone, one young buck pipes up, “I’ve got two step-dads and one is almost dead.”
In a rare moment of self-awareness, Susanna ruefully says to Maisie, “ I was once just like you”. Where innocence is lost and cynicism sets in is one of the great questions of ‘growing up’, of giving and receiving, of finding and losing love. Maisie intuitively knows the difference and somehow you know, or want to believe, she always will.
A superbly written, well acted and directed film, screenwriter Carroll Cartwright and cast members Alexander Skaarsgard, Julianne Moore and certainly Onata Aprile should be on the radar come Oscartime.