• Matt Damon, Anna Paquin, Kenneth Lonergan

This week the Bleader presents a series of commentaries on Kenneth Lonergan’s drama Margaret (2011), which screens through Thursday at Gene Siskel Film Center.

Watching Margaret for the second time this weekend, I was struck by how much screen time is taken up by teachers. The main character, Lisa Cohen (Anna Paquin), is an upperclassman at a place she describes as “a private school for rich Jews” (if memory serves), and writer-director Kenneth Lonergan includes numerous scenes of her classes, which are relatively small and all seem to center on student discussion. These scenes enlarge the movie’s frame of reference beyond the main plot—the horrifying bus accident that leaves Lisa guilt-ridden and determined to punish the driver (Mark Ruffalo)—and touch on such weighty subjects as man’s relationship with God and the conflict between radical Islam and the West. Even more important, Lisa has dealings outside class with two of her teachers—John (Matthew Broderick), who teaches English, and Mr. Aaron (Matt Damon), who teaches geometry—that reflect on the main story.