Strong and impressive modern take on Henry James' 1897 novel of the same name (of which I hadn't heard!).
In New York, Julianne Moore (in blistering form) and Steve Coogan (also good, in a straight role after his recent very funny 'Alan Partridge' film), are the viciously bickering parents of 6 year-old Maisie, who witnesses their sweary squabbles and is understandably confused about her divided loyalties as she's fond of them both. The Court orders her to be shared between them - each of them having other relationships and, after the divorce, neither of them wastes any time in getting married again, each to someone quite a few years younger than themselves.
Moore's mother-figure is a fading rock singer, way past the time of her high appeal, and Coogan plays an art-dealer father, like Moore often away 'on business' and both therefore only able to give limited time to their daughter. It's evident that they both have qualms of conscience but are unable or unwilling to alter their routine to give her more attention. So, it's left to the new spouses to take the lion's share of the caring - and it's clear that each of them separately is much better at that function than Maisie's true father and mother - and she warmly takes to them both.
The 'substitute' parents are Joanna Vanderham and Alexander Skarsgard, both of whom are new names to me. I'd guessed the latter must have been a son of Swedish actor Stellan S. - and a very nice 'bit of rough' he is too, with an endearing smile. She is very good as well. In fact the entire quartet of adults here all play their parts excellently.
And to bind it all together is little Opata Aprile, who could so easily have been portrayed as a twee little child, who is used in the film as the instrument to drag the whole thing down to mawkishness. But co-directors McGehee and Siegel deftly avoid that. I know that it's been avoided because I have a particular aversion to seeing little kids on screen displaying a wisdom way beyond their years. That's not the case here. Maisie doesn't have a great deal to say about the adult relationships, conveying her perplexity at what's going on mainly through silent looks.
I must also mention that Julianne Moore (one of my very favourite actresses) plays her role as someone who has little regard for her appearance - as far as I can see, largely without make-up and almost looking her true age. When it comes to her confrontations the hatred that spews out of her mouth towards her former husband is almost palpable.
A thoroughly convincing and remarkable performance.
A film of fine achievement, and something I wasn't expecting............7.5