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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

What Maisie Knew [Blu-ray]


(Scott McGehee, David Siegel, 2012)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Red Crown Productions

Video: Millennium Films



Region: 'A' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:38:55.930 

Disc Size: 21,042,992,223 bytes

Feature Size: 17,911,517,184 bytes

Video Bitrate: 19.90 Mbps

Chapters: 12

Case: Standard Blu-ray case inside cardboard slipcase

Release date: August 13th, 2013



Aspect ratio: 2.40:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



Dolby TrueHD Audio English 1323 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1323 kbps / 16-bit (AC3 Embedded: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps)
Dolby Digital Audio English 256 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 256 kbps
Commentary: Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB



English (SDH), Spanish, none



• Commentary by Director Scott McGehee + David Siegel

Deleted Scenes (7:20 in 1080P)


Second disc DVD





Description: A contemporary reimagining of Henry James' novel, What Maisie Knew tells the story of a captivating little girl's struggle for grace in the midst of her parents' bitter custody battle. Told through the eyes of the title's heroine, Maisie navigates this ever-widening turmoil with a six-year-old's innocence, charm and generosity of spirit.


Scott McGehee and David Siegel's adaptation of Henry James' novel What Maisie Knew stars Julianne Moore as Susanna, a self-involved rock-star whose marriage to the equally egotistical Beale (Steve Coogan) is falling apart. They are both less than good parents to their six-year-old daughter Maisie. The girls finds some solace in the care of the family's nanny as well as when she's looked after by Susanna's new boyfriend. What Maisie Knew screened at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival



The Film:

Six-year-old Maisie experiences the misery of her parents' marriage in snatches. She'll stumble in on her mum (Julianne Moore) crying, get woken up by her dad (Steve Coogan) hammering on the door. For the most part it doesn't seem to upset her too much. Their rows have started to form a soundtrack to playtime. Frankly, she's a little bored by the fuss.

Then Dad moves out and Maisie's lovely nanny goes with him. Mum marries a bartender and Maisie becomes a bargaining chip, shuffled between the two houses until, one day, she decides she doesn't want to play any more.

Scott McGehee and David Siegel's adaptation of Henry James's 1897 novel keeps us with Maisie all the way through. The camera drifts away as a screaming match over custody starts and we'll follow Maisie's attention to a toy, a bug, a window, anything to distract from her parents having a go at each other again. The adults' behaviour is almost as confusing for us as it is for her. It's a neat trick that reminds us these weighty adult issues are both life-changing and, in the moment, somewhat insignificant to someone Maisie's age.

Excerpt from The Guardin located HERE

The gamesmanship grows more intense as Coogan and Moore try to establish new lives for themselves. Acting on desires that are painfully obvious from the start, Coogan asks Aprile’s pretty young nanny (Joanna Vanderham) to live with him. When Moore uses his living-in-sin to try to win back custody, the father and the help are quickly wed. Moments later, sweetly dopey Alexander Skarsgård shows up to the principal’s office, announcing that he’s Moore’s new husband. The bad decisions pile up like cars on a wet freeway, but through it all, Aprile maintains an almost eerie calm, guilelessly taking in each new development and storing it away for future therapy sessions.

Excerpt from The Onion located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

What Maisie Knew comes to Blu-ray from Millennium Films. This is only single-layered with a modest bitrate. It actually looks quite good aside from the slight green/blue cast in indoor sequences. Natural lighting produces bright, impressive, colors. Contrast is adept supporting some solid detail. This Blu-ray isn't particularly remarkable in terms of its image but the film itself has some pleasing visuals. By lofty modern standards this is fairly tame visually and may have benefited from dual-layering and a high bitrate. This Blu-ray with a 2.4 widescreen aspect ratio gave me a decent, although not stellar, presentation.















Audio :

We get the option of a, lesser used, Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track at 1323 kbps or a simple Dolby Digital stereo track. Not a lot of background, rear speaker, activity - park and ocean locales export some but the What Maisie Knew is no actioner and has little depth essentially being a dialogue-driven film experience. Nick Urata's score was subtle and supportive and dialogue was all clear and consistent. There are optional subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.


Extras :

We get a commentary by the, highly intelligent (and kinda fun), directors Scott McGehee + David Siegel filling in some of my personal gaps on the film and expanding on the narrative. There are also about 8-minutes of deleted scenes in 1080P and a handful of 'Previews'. The package contains a second disc DVD of the feature.



I'm afraid I must have been out of the loop on this one - as I didn't quite understand What Maisie Knew or appreciate it. Sure, self-absorbed parents on the success hamster wheel - certainly not new - and the love affair with the, hearts-of-gold, significant others was... awkward. Onata Aprile's performance, as Maisie, was great and I always enjoy Julianne Moore, but I always had the suspicion that we, the audience, were being 'played' as guilty parents. Maybe that was the point. Anyway, it felt contrived and I didn't see much value - that doesn't mean that you won't.  The Millennium Films Blu-ray is no demo but will give you a decent, occasionally impressive (kudos cinematography), presentation. The commentary is a welcome addition. 

Gary Tooze

August 8th, 2013



About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

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60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
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Gary W. Tooze






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