Film reviews: What Maisie Knew | Kick-Ass 2

AT SIX years old, Maisie (Onata Aprile) can prepare her own peanut butter snacks, tip the pizza boy, wield chopsticks and find her own way to bed in her lavish New York apartment with a recording studio in the middle.

Picture: Contributed

What Maisie Knew (15)

* * * *

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What else does Maisie know? To keep her head down when the fights break out between her narcissistic rock chick mother (Julianne Moore) and her selfish art dealer father (Steve Coogan). Their breakup is observed from her perspective; a smart and stoic child, she’s the only thing both parents want to hang on to, partly to spite the other.

By marrying Margo, their Scottish nanny (Joanna Vanderham), Maisie’s father wins points in the custody battle. In retaliation Susanna rushes into a civil ceremony with a sweet-tempered bartender called Lincoln (Alexander Skarsgard). Maisie’s stepparents are inexperienced, underfunded and in their twenties, but as directors Scott McGehee and David Siegel overemphasise, they make a far better fist of parenting than Maisie’s abrasive real parents.

Maisie is based on Henry James’ novel of the same name, updated to modern New York, and with more “f*** yous” than you’ll find in the entire James’ canon. A lot else has changed since James’ day: “I have two stepfathers, but one is almost dead” casually announces a child in a bowtie at Maisie’s school.

An intimate story of repeated betrayal, five terrific performances get this movie over some rocky terrain, including a pat resolution. It’s hard to begrudge Maisie her shot at happiness, especially when you consider the size of those therapy bills.

On general release from Friday

Kick-Ass 2 (15)

* * *

Superhero (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and his adolescent ally Hit Girl (Chloe Grace Moretz) encounter a team of amateur avengers (including Jim Carrey). This time the transgressive punch-ups feel awfully forced.

On general release

Lovelace (R)

* * *

A sweet porn queen (Amanda Seyfried), her abusive husband (Peter Sarsgaard), and a couple of cuddly pornographers (Hank Azaria and Bobby Carnavale) tell the story of Deep Throat’s star that is frustratingly softcore.

On general release from Friday

Out In The Dark (15)

* * *

A charged love story between an Israeli lawyer (Michael Aloni) and a Palestinian student (Nicholas Jacob) puts a fresh spin on Middle East politics.

Glasgow Film Theatre, Friday until 25 August

Paradise: Hope (15)

* * *

A chubby teen (Melanie Lenz) falls for the middle-aged doctor at her fat camp. Funny, awful, compassionate and surprising.

Filmhouse, Edinburgh, Friday until 25 August

We’re The Millers (15)

* *

A drug dealer (Jason Sudeikis) puts together a fake family (Jennifer Aniston, Emma Roberts, Will Poulter) to help him smuggle hash across the Mexican border. Fitfully funny, but there’s not much buzz to this joint.

On general release from Friday

The Kings Of Summer (15)

* *

Three 15-year-olds run away from home, set up house in the woods and touch base with cinema’s most familiar coming-of-age clichés. Pleasant, but predictable.

On limited release from Friday

Morrissey 25: Live (PG)

* *

Mozza in concert with a band intent on pummelling the stuffing out of songs like Everyday Is Like Sunday. Featuring an excruciating section where fans are given microphones. “Thank you for the life lessons,” one begins. Including preciousness and misanthropy, perhaps?

Cameo, Edinburgh, Saturday, and limited release on 24 August