Adapted and extrapolated from Henry James' novel of the same name, What Maisie Knew is a film that puts the audience right in the title character's world -- and forces it to experience it the way she does.
In this case, Maisie is a seven-year-old girl (played by the dazzling Onata Aprile), the daughter of a rock singer named Susanna (Julianne Moore) and a businessman of some sort named Beale (Steve Coogan). It's immediately apparent that her parents aren't getting along -- but not because we see them clashing.
Rather, we experience their relationship indirectly -- indeed, we experience the entire world indirectly -- through young Maisie's eyes and ears. So, when she's in the other room playing, you can hear the barely controlled voices of her parents arguing in the next room. As she's trying to fall asleep at night, she (and we) can hear her parents shouting at each other through the closed door and the next thing Maisie knows, there's a man there changing the locks on the front door.
Beale has been kicked out -- but he quickly finds a posh bachelor's bad -- and then settles in by marrying Maisie's nanny, Margo (Joanna Vanderham). But Beale is always traveling, so Maisie's world revolves around Margo -- at least until it's Susanna's turn for custody.
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