Film Review: Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. – 8/10

‘We must, we must, we must increase our bust!

As far as I understand it, Judy Blume is a right of passage for any young woman worth her salt. I guess the equivalent for me might have been Sue Townsend’s Adrian Mole books. While I know nothing about what is perhaps Blume’s most celebrated novel Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, I was enticed by this adaptation due to the warm critical reception it has received and the stellar cast. It didn’t disappoint…

Margaret Simon (Abby Ryder Fortson) is on the cusp of adolescence. While obsessing over bras, periods and boys, Margaret also struggles with the concept of faith. Due to having a Jewish father (Benny Safdie) and a Christian mother (Rachel McAdams), Margaret has no fixed faith and has been tasked with making her own mind up. Her loving but overbearing grandmother Sylvia (Kathy Bates) attempts to convert her to Judaism whilst her maternal grandparents disowned Margaret’s mother for entering into a mixed-faith marriage. Luckily, Margaret has a solid girl gang, led by the bossy, future mean girl Nancy (Elle Graham), to help her navigate the choppy waters of becoming a teenager.

Writer-director Kelly Fremon Craig takes Blume’s source material and imbues it with a warmth and reliability akin to Greta Gerwig’s incredible Little Women adaptation. The key to the success of this film is that it doesn’t really need to be updated for a modern audience. The themes here are universal. Think also Eighth Grade or the underrated coming-of-age TV show PEN15.

The other X factor here is the Simon family. McAdams is utterly believable as a scatty but loving mother and she shares an irresistible and authentic chemistry with Safdie and Fortson. The latter delivers a breakout performance in the eponymous starring role and after already impressing in Ant-Man and the Wasp it appears the future is bright for the young actress.

Boasting a wonderful contemporaneous soundtrack and an understated but effective score from Hans Zimmer, Fremon Craig’s film is one of the most accessible and enjoyable of the year. A proper comfort watch. I’m looking forward to the crossover with another successful 2023 movie about a certain Italian plumber. They could call it, Are You There God? It’s A-me, Mario!