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Yes, the picture above is in fact Alexander Skarsgard helping adorable then-6-year-old Onata Aprile with her coloring book in a scene from the upcoming movie, What Maisie Knew, opening in select theaters tonight. I know -- my ovaries just fluttered, too. ASkars playing with a kid. Being tender and fatherly. Wow to the hundredth degree. His role as Lincoln in the film is a real departure for the 36-year-old Swedish actor, a side we haven't seen onscreen before and it's positively heartwarming (but still equally sexy).
(If you'd rather wait to see the film yourself, which I strongly advise, don't read ahead: SPOILERS!)
As the bartender and Julianne Moore's boyfriend, Skarsgard portrays a clueless, accidental father when Maisie, played by Aprile, gets caught up in a nasty custody battle between her parents. And, no, I've never been more jealous of a 6-year-old girl in my entire life.
And not just because she has the best layered haircut and side bangs ever seen, or because this kid's on-screen talent at just 6 years old will totally blow you away. It's for a far more selfish reason.
I didn't count how many times Lincoln hugged, cradled, carried, or sat with Maisie on his lap, but it was a lot -- and those sweet and simple moments and the slow development of their bond is what propels this film and the storyline. Lincoln gives Maisie the attention, spontaneity, and fun that all kids need and that is practically non-existent from her own parents, aging rock star Susanna (played by Moore) and her globe-trotting, art dealing father, Beale (played by Steve Coogan).
One of the best lines in the film is when the nanny Margo (played by Joanna Vanderham) asks Maisie: "You really like Lincoln, don't you?" To which Maisie replies: "I love him."
Don't we all, sister, don't we all.
But oh, ehem ... yes, about those other actors in the film. They are pretty outstanding in their roles, too. Moore gives another knockdown performance, this time as the world's shittiest and scariest mom.
Moore says that her real life mom instincts helped her to work with Onata. "Because I am a parent, I made extra care of not scaring her," she said. "What I said was, we're going to do this scene and I'm probably going to yell at you, don't be scared. Or maybe in this scene I'm going to cry, but know that it's just pretend."
Maisie's father Beale may not be as scary and emotional as Susanna, but he's just as detached and incapable of parenting. He clearly loves his daughter, and even goes to court to fight for custody of her. But he just doesn't know how to give her what she needs, and proves it by marrying the former nanny Margo -- partly because she's a hot young thing but also so that he has someone to take care of Maisie when he's jetting around doing his art dealing stuff.
The film is not so much about a string of events as much as it is about the audience being able to experience Maisie's misery and her traumatic and shifting relationships with the four adults through her own eyes and perspective. You totally feel her pain, and frequently want to grab her out of the screen and take her home with you.
You don't need to have kids of your own to thoroughly enjoy the storyline and convincing performances (it's based on a Henry James novel of the same name), but the impact of the film -- beyond simply that divorce sucks -- will resonate extra fervently if you do.
One of the most poignant scenes in the film is when Lincoln takes the time to make Maisie a lunch with one of her favorite foods, eggs. He does not just make her lunch, he makes her lunch. He prepares her plate as if he's serving a food critic in a five-star restaurant, lining the plate with greens before delicately placing a perfectly sliced hard-boiled egg on top, topping it off with cherry tomatoes for some color.
When Lincoln asks why she's just staring at the food and not eating it, Maisie replies: "Because I don't want to ruin it."
Here's the trailer:
Think you might want to see What Maisie Knew?
Image via Millennium Entertainment
Video via MegaTrailer/YouTube