Adolescence ain’t easy in “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret”

Published 8:00 am Tuesday, May 2, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Tryon Theatre steps back in time to 1970 for the next two weeks, back to a world of confused adolescence and budding adulthood in a stellar adaptation of Judy Bloom’s seminal novel, Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret

The film of the same title is a loving and sincere translation of Bloom’s beloved writing. The world and characters are beautifully realized with the same endearing frankness that enraptured readers of the novel for decades. Bloom’s beloved written work is heightened even further by the performances of the film’s leads, and from the intimate direction provided by Kelly Fremon Craig. 

The middle school years are not easy, and this film explores this age with a profound sense of empathy. The focal point of this empathy is Margaret Simon, an 11-year-old girl recently transplanted to the suburbs. 

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Margaret finds herself on the cusp of puberty and in the midst of an existential crisis, feeling pulled between and away from the influences of her parent’s respective religious beliefs, one Jewish, and one Christian. Margaret is adjusting to a new school and a new age, where the social tensions soon match her own internal religious tension. 

In a most realistic fashion, this amalgam of confusion and anxiety is interrupted by the many positive emotions that come with adolescence: the hope, the joy and all the nervous excitement. 

As with many coming-of-age films, “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret” explores key emotional moments in Margaret’s life, some mundane and some profound. She forms friendships, develops crushes and struggles through awkward conversations with her mother. But the film also gives great care to fully embrace supporting characters, breathing a sensitive humanity into these roles. 

Rachel McAdams’s performance as Margaret’s mother is notably praiseworthy in its grounded and dynamic quality. McAdams captures the full scope of a mother’s own tumultuous emotional spectrum: the joy of responsibility and the burden of obligation, the capacity for loving one’s child to bring laughter as easily as tears. 

While the film does tell Margaret’s story, the value of appreciating her story is not restricted to those who can empathize with her experience. Women who also came of age in the 70s will find a connection to the film, but the frank and sincere insight into adolescence is one with which anyone can connect. 

We all have something to appreciate about Margaret’s awkward, and hilarious journey. We hope you will share the laughter and the tears with us for “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.”