Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.

By Joanna Langfield

It has taken over 50 years to get Judy Blume’s beloved coming of age novel to the screen. But what a time for it to land now.

11 year old Margaret is so happy, living in New York City, cozy in her cramped apartment and near the grandmother she adores. But the family is moving to the suburbs. Into a nice split level. Grandma’s big time not thrilled. Margaret isn’t either. Why should she have to move, start sixth grade in a new school, make new friends? And so she prays. Asking the God she’s not sure exists to lend a hand.

It’s not that Margaret doesn’t believe. It’s that she doesn’t know what to believe. Because, she discovers, after her mother was disowned by her devotedly churchgoing parents for marrying a Jewish man, the Simons practice no religion. And they’ve told Margaret she can decide what she wants to do when she grows up. But what, Margaret wonders, is a grown up? Does it mean when finally she will get her long awaited period? Is it when she finds the kind of friends she wants, not just the first who take her in? Or is it when she gets her first kiss or real boyfriend?

Director Kelly Fremon Craig, who first worked with producer James L. Brooks on the The Edge of Seventeen, brings a delicate but assured hand to this poignant and often very touching comic drama. Abby Ryder Fortson is simply super as Margaret, so, too are Kathy Bates and the always wonderful Rachel McAdams, here as adult women still finding their way.  True confessions: I was already in tears before the actual movie even started, as we see women of all ages recall when they got their periods, and other parts of the emotional rollercoaster we all go through but often don’t talk about. And how timely it is to see this frank conversation about menstruation just as some government entities are working to prevent them from happening at all. 

This is a warm and embracing film that pulls no punches. Maybe, after a very long wait, this is exactly the moment for us its story once again.

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