With the announcement of the impending end of the partnership of Australia’s best-known and most enduring movie critics, I felt it was time to give them their due: a review.
While the cinematography, lighting, sets and even the direction always seemed to be on some kind of static autopilot for The Margaret & David Show, it was purposefully and cleverly designed that way to allow the principals’ performances to be the focal point. Their characterisations were entirely plausible, multi-layered and even at times inescapably loveable. They weren’t the archetypical film snobs, however, waxing endlessly lyrical about cinéma vérité and Ingmar and obscure Eastern Bloc auteurs: Stratton’s paternal prickliness regarding the overuse of CGI and handheld-style footage was balanced by his genuine and surprising affection for the occasional gun-toting cinematic rampage, while Pomeranz’s unashamed love for romance and farce was moderated by her once-in-a-while approval of slow-paced European existentialism. Their interactions were careful yet brilliant studies in plausible dialogue and masterclasses in improvisation; at one turn bickering like an old married couple over who finished the milk, at another gushing like honeymooners upon wandering down an alley and discovering a charming new restaurant, at yet another finding small, precious patches of common ground in what appeared to be irresolvable conflict. In doing so they didn’t just leave us well-informed, they inspired us all to examine ourselves and our own relationships as carefully and as deeply as they examined every film they discussed.
In the end, Margaret and David covered a great deal of ground, developed their characters more deeply and honestly than any director ever could have desired and left us all better acquainted with them, the films they loved and with ourselves. What some might call an overlong exploration of the opinions of two ordinary people, others might well describe as an extraordinary exploration of the human condition which was scarcely long enough.
I’m giving them four stars.