Divorce is an opportunity for people to indulge their intensity & hoarded resentments on to everyone. Normally sane people will shriek when they meet their spouse in the grocery store. They are past caring how it looks because they are fueled by self-righteousness.

Divorce is an invitation to be your worse self, even in front of your own children. All people with children in the process of divorce should be forced to watch this movie. The movie captures the ugliness of divorce and it is startling when viewed through the eyes of a six-year-old.

Watching you will wince with pain more than once because the movie is so authentic about divorce.

Kids in divorce cry in my office because they never get any time alone with a divorced parent because now time is too often shared with the new love interest. Kids cry because a parent reveals too much about their new dating life or just because they reveal too much. Kids cry because they don’t want to understand the new reality that money is split between two households.

Kids in divorce cry because they don’t want divorce to happen to them. Kids cry because it’s all so confusing and they desperately want to be allowed to love both parents & not choose one. Kids cry because they hate keeping track of their stuff in two places and it gets overwhelming to forget something important so many times.

Kids in divorce cry because they lock up their inside feelings and act ok and nobody asks or listens to them about what’s hard.

The parents in the movie are wealthy and find two people to chew up & spit out as sparkly new young lovers who will make it all better and prove they are quite lovable. It’s the contrast of watching the genuineness and whole-hearted care of the young lovers for the six-year-old, compared to the birth parents’ selfish, calculating “how much can I get away with?” that provides the meat of the story.

So anyone watching the movie can comfort themselves with “I’d never do that…” but the truth is that the level of desperateness that follows divorce easily twists people’s souls into a pretzel of certainty that it’s ok just this once. Julianna Moore’s character is jealous of her daughter’s new-found affection for “stepdad” and she is very angry she has to share custody with her husband. Indeed it’s the raw selfishness and stinginess that too often emerges in divorce.

In the New York Times movie review A.O.Scott said: “What Maisie Knew” lays waste to the comforting dogma that children are naturally resilient, and that our casual, unthinking cruelty to them can be answered by guilty and belated displays of affection.

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About the Rhoda Mills Sommer

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