Judy Blume’s ground-breaking novel about puberty—and so much more—gets a heartfelt and poignant pitch-perfect adaptation that captures the essence of growing up, self-discovery, and the quest for identity.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2023
Judy Blume’s beloved novel about an 11-year-old girl praying to hit puberty has proven a beacon of solace, transcending five decades and speaking to generations. Its enduring power lies in a hugely relatable protagonist, wavering on the cusp between childhood and adolescence—and an unflinching depiction of the trials of growing up.
When Margaret (Abby Ryder Fortson) reluctantly moves to her new home in New Jersey from New York with her parents Barbara (Rachel McAdams) and Herb (Benny Safdie), she leaves behind her beloved firecracker of a grandmother, Sylvia (Kathy Bates) and a much-loved life in the big city.
After being recruited into a friendship clique by her worldly cool-girl neighbour, Margaret must now worry about boys, bras and periods, while wrestling with her parents’ different religious backgrounds and her own place in these worlds. Framed in a 70s Polaroid haze, raw and expressive Abby Ryder Fortson is knock-out as the iconic Margaret. As are her tween pals, their friend group chemistry authentic and sparky.
A touching and tender adaptation of a book which means so much to so many, Are You There? shows us generational relationships that balance humour and heart in a film that, like Margaret, curiously asks the big questions. — Nic Marshall
"For all our snap-bracelet readiness to embrace girl power and its concomitant hashtags (#yougotthis!), depictions of preadolescents that are worthy of their subjects are thin on the ground. Perhaps because most tweens will just ‘watch up’ anyway, big entertainment has slouched into a comfortable stance of pumping out cutesy kids’ content and edgy fare about high school, without bothering to give much thought to the beautifully messy middle ground. Are You There God? writer-director Kelly Fremon Craig’s entry to the woefully underserved category of period dramas (make of that what you will), is destined to become a classic... an entertaining comedy that also happens to be a stunning evocation of the fear and yearning that come with standing on the precipice of adulthood." — Lauren Mechling, The Guardian