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What we missed: Steve Coogan and Julianne Moore’s bitter divorce

It’s probably best to approach Scott McGehee and David Siegel’s intimate, unnerving and entirely addictive drama “What Maisie Knew” by not leaning too hard on its Henry James source material. While readers of James’ brief and brilliant 1897 novel will surely spot and enjoy the numerous parallels and points of connection, this is an absorbing 21st-century childhood thriller – not a contradiction in terms, I promise – that requires no literary study.

Maisie (the remarkable Onata Aprile, who has just the right combination of slyness and shyness) is a girl of 7 or 8, of the pampered yet neglected sort that’s entirely too common in Manhattan and other metropolitan locales. Her parents are a debauched rock star named Susanna (ruthlessly nailed by Julianne Moore), who has slid past her expiration date without noticing it, and a pompous English art dealer named Beale (Steve Coogan), who may be worse, since he’s wilier and more manipulative. Their custody battle drags Maisie through a half-understood world of nannies, private schools and courtrooms, mostly seen from her perspective.

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