Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret Review- A Competently Written, Directed, and Acted Coming of Age Film

I’ve seen a lot of movies based on books in my day. So this one based on Judy Blume’s novel is the latest. Judy Blume is a popular author of many novels mostly in the young adult genre. One of her more popular books is Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. It is getting the big screen treatment from a writer/director who isn’t a stranger to the young adult genre herself Kelly Freeman Craig, who directed The Edge of Seventeen back in 2016.

Margaret (Abbey Ryder Fortson) of Ant-Man and Ant-Man and the Wasp fame, is an 11/12-year-old girl who is trying to find herself. When her parents Barbara (Rachel McAdams) and Herb (Benny Safdie) decide to move from their New York apartment to a New Jersey suburb, this is devastating for her. She quickly gets over it and starts to make friends with a girl down the street from her new home and a couple of other girls from school. As she’s growing into her adolescent body she starts to ask questions about her family’s background. Specifically their religious upbringing.

As part of a year-round school project her new 6th-grade teacher assigns her and the class a philosophical question that can study and work out throughout the year. She takes this project seriously and embarks on a journey of self-discovery through various forms of religion starting with Judaism and Christianity, her parent’s religions from their youth. They brought her up as an atheist. So when she’s an adult she can decide on her own what religion she wants to follow.

As a man who has had my ups and downs in religion in my lifetime, I could relate a lot to what this young girl was going through. I am an atheist today because of my negative experiences with the Catholic religion. I was in a bad place in my life where I needed something to get me through the bad times and I reverted back to my Catholic roots. It didn’t help me much and it completely turned me off from Catholicism altogether. 

This film deals with tweens pretty well though. The ins and outs of a middle school girl are handled very well by the writer/director and the cast. There are a lot of female things that come up involving breast growth and periods. These were perfectly fleshed out in the script. Also, teen angst was dealt with in the form of shaming a specific character for their growth spurt. This coming-of-age movie handled these topics very well.

The main actress Fortson was very good in the film. She showed all sides of a young girl such as this. She did great as the narrator and as a girl coming into her own as a young lady. Her relationship with her family was pretty good as well. Her grandmother, played by Cathy Bates, was quite a character. These two had a great relationship with one another. Forrtson emoted nicely as this confused girl. I look forward to seeing her in more films in the future.

Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret handled some difficult topics very adequately. The various topics depicted in the film were fleshed out and dealt with perfectly for this half-a-century-old man. Honestly, this wasn’t something made for me but I found something worthwhile in it. The religious topic and Fortson as the lead were enough for me to recommend this coming-of-age film. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked it given the topics at hand. This should do well with teens and mothers who read the book by Blume and in general.

3 ½ 

Dan Skip Allen

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