In an era when many schoolkids are more concerned about gun violence (in the US), cyberbullying and sending nudes than the seemingly more old-fashioned growing pains of who you are and whether the popular boy fancies you, Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret. is a welcome, nostalgic throwback to simpler times.
In adapting Judy Blume's 1970 novel, writer/director Kelly Fremon Craig depicts a more innocent age, where girls look at penises in anatomy books and giggle, then scan the pages of Playboy for comparisons to their own developing bodies.
When Margaret (Abby Ryder Fortson) and her family uproot from city to suburbs, the physical shift isn’t the only challenge. The move sparks internal flux, not just within Margaret but among the generations of women in the family.
As Margaret asks God for the things she wants – bras, periods and kissing boys in cupboards are rites of passage – she also interrogates religion, in the light of her parents' (Rachel McAdams and Benny Safdie) interfaith marriage.
Fortson makes an endearing Margaret and McAdams is at her most sincere and likeable. Meanwhile, Kathy Bates invests Margaret’s paternal grandma with commanding and nuanced notes, vital qualities both in a quietly feminist antidote to some of the noisier films out there.
Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret is out in UK cinemas on May 19 and is being released in US theaters on April 28. For more upcoming movies, check out our breakdown of all of the 2023 movie release dates.