Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Spin-Off - Margot Tenenbaum: The Wilderness Years

Recently I discovered the rather hip “Cinematic Corner” which is also currently hosting a “Spin-off blogathon” taking a minor character from one film and giving them a film of their own.

Now while I know that most of my regular readers may expect me to choose the cool as ice dropship pilot Corporal Ferro from “Aliens” especially given my obsession with Collette Hiller, however I felt that I pretty much covered the character in my “One I would save” post. I also tossed around the idea of Christopher Lambert’s ice cream man and underground militant Walter Mung from “Southland Tales” but ultimately I decided (and perhaps inspired in part by this month’s ongoing “WesAndermarch”) I decided to choose Margot Tenenbaum.

One of handful of truly interesting roles Gwyneth Paltrow has had, while at the same time also being one of the fewer roles were she truly embodied the character, in a role the likes of which we sadly haven’t seen her play since, as even though her role is largely consistent of hiding out in the bathroom and smoking she is still one of the more memorable members of the Tenenbaum clan.
True Margot could be considered to already be a leading character seeing how she is one of the three Tenenbaum children, yet at the same time she is also the one that we know the least about, outside of the occasional snapshot moments from her life which Wes Anderson chooses to show us, perfectly tying in with her secretive nature while at the same leaving her the character I most wanted to see more of.

So what would a spin of film focus on? Well the original film covers the early years of her life pretty thoroughly, including her success as a playwriting child prodigy and underdeveloped artist, aswell as her detached relationship with her adopted father, who openly reminds her of her adopted status by introducing her at social gatherings as his adopted daughter. Her childhood also includes her running away with her brother (and future boyfriend) Richie, aswell as a second attempt which lead to her loosing part of her finger, which is revealed to be the result of a wood chopping accident when she found her birth family. The rest of her life up to the impromptu family reunion is briefly covered in the private detective report commissioned by her husband Raleigh, which are shown in a series of intriguing snapshots of key moments of her life to the current day. 

Because of Margot’s secretive nature  of course only makes a spin off film covering these moments all the more interesting, especially when she is one of the few characters in the film which we still feel that we don’t feel that we truly know by the end of the film outside of the bare bones of her character.  

So what would a Margot spin-off be like? Well first I would like it to focus on those years we the snapshot moments from, especially as these are the ones which pose the most questions and to continue on from were the film leaves off would only potentially lead into romantic comedy territory which honestly would not suit her character in the slightest, even if the idea of a romantic film centred around a incestuous (of sorts) love affair is an amusing pitch to say the least.

With Margot not being the chattiest of characters, this spin off would have to be voice over driven, especially as I always imagined the internal monologue of Margot to be full of witty comments and observations, even if she may seem sedated on the surface.

Margot equally makes a great candidate for a spin off if only to give us the alternative view point of key moments from the film such as the divorce of her parents as well as more importantly her witnessing the Richie’s in game meltdown following her marriage her to Raleigh. While she seems unmoved during the scene it would be interesting to see if she ever felt anything for him at that moment, much like when she first felt anything for him, especially when she seemingly cares little for anyone person as seem by her frequently switching from one partner to the next even when she is supposedly married it does little to slow her down with such scenes certainly benefiting from the insight that only she could provide, to explain if this her trying to work out the frustration of her stalled career or if she just enjoys living by her own rules.

Needless to say when it comes to listing Wes Anderson's memorable creations, it is impossible not to include Margot and even though he continues to add new and ever more curious characters to the list, Margot forever remains one of my favourites and one more than worthy of her own spin off, which if not for the reasons stated atleast to see Paltrow don the iconic look once more.


  1. Thanks so much for participating! Margot is definitely one of my favorite performances from Paltrow and I'd love to see a movie just about her.

    1. Thank you for inspiring this piece and fascinating to see how much of a fashion icon she was when the film was released, only to slink into obscurity. Still one of my all time favourite characters.

  2. This is a great post. I for one would love to see this. The use of monologues would work great and would bring in a great subtle dry humor that would be perfect for this movie.

    1. A monologue can be a great and wonderous thing when done well. Done badly it becomes ponderous and grating, but I'm sure Margot's dry humour would work perfectly for such moments.


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