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ActOne Cinema film review: Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret. is a nostalgic delight!

Judy Blume’s classic 1970s novel Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret. has been beloved by teenagers across the world for decades. And yet despite its enduring popularity, it’s never been made into a movie until now.

Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret'
Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.

The good news is it’s been well worth the wait. Because Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret. the movie version is as faithful an adaptation as fans of the book could hope for – taking everything which made the book so great and transferring it to the screen with skill.

And while the world may have moved on significantly since those days, you’d be surprised how many of its themes and issues (growing up, puberty, awkward teen romance, complicated relationships with grown-ups) remain relevant today.

Margaret Simon (Ant-Man actress Abby Ryder Fortson) is the 11-year-old only child of bohemian 70s-era parents, who suddenly announce they are moving from New York to suburban life in New Jersey.

Initially devastated at leaving the city and her beloved grandma Sylvia (Kathy Bates) behind, her new home brings with it a new circle of friends, led by feisty Nancy (Elle Graham). Over the course of a year Margaret has to negotiate the perils of encroaching womanhood – the peer pressure to wear a bra, to not wear socks to school and to have her first kiss – as well as having to cope with the issues her parents face in their own lives. And yet all she really wants is to get her period, thinking it will win her the respect of her friends. She starts talking to God hoping he will understand how she feels. But will divine intervention help her grow up faster?

If you’ve read and loved Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret, you couldn’t wish for a more spot-on recreation of Judy Blume’s words. Everything about this from the casting through to the period detail, with its rotary phones, brown furniture and out of control lawnmowers, is so lovingly recreated, it’s almost as if you are transported back to the 70s to become a part of Margaret’s world.

And while the well-known names in this are a joy to watch – Mean Girls’ Rachel McAdams is perfect as Margaret’s mother while Kathy Bates’ Jewish grandmother act almost steals the entire film – the younger cast members give them a run for their money at times. Fortson is so well-cast as Margaret – all preteen angst and twitchy awkwardness, as she navigates kissing the school heartthrob or buying sanitary pads from a male cashier – it’s impossible to imagine anyone else playing the role. Meanwhile Graham – previously seen in Stranger Things – also marks herself out as a young actress to watch, giving Nancy the perfect blend of stroppiness and preteen vulnerability.

Whether you have teenagers or were once a teenager yourself, this is a gentle, feelgood comedy drama which tackles its issues with sensitivity and knowing humour – and serving up an ending which is predictable but no less heartwarming for it. So, if you’re looking for an alternative to the current slew of summer blockbuster fare, give Margaret a go.

EALING.NEWS reviewed Are You There God It’s Me, Margaret. at Act One Cinema, Acton. For more information on the cinema and its current and upcoming films, click here.

View the trailer below

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