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Margaret's Museum Review

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A young woman in 1940's Nova Scotia faces up to the loss of here family in a tough mining community.

★★★★★

Set in 1940s Nova Scotia, Helena Bonham-Carter's latest finds her swapping coiffeured locks and antique lace for a bird's nest hairdo and moth-eaten cardigans, as Margaret, the centre of the turmolic MacNeil family whose lives are based around coal mines.

Unlucky, but apparently typical, in that she loses both her father and elder brother killed in the pits, Margaret refuses any man who works for coal, preferring her role as the town's foul-mouthed outcast. Her mother Catherine (Nelligan) encourages this stance while desperately trying to dissuade her youngest son Jimmy from joining the trade. Margaret allows herself to fall in love with a newcomer, strapping bagpipe player Neil (Russell) as he only washes dishes in a restaurant. But when Neil loses his job and tries his luck underground, history repeats itself, prompting Margaret into an unconventional act of mourning.

As a woman calling the shots about life and love in a 1940s island community, Bonham-Carter delivers bucketloads of the required feistiness, and makes a strong feminist core paired with the bitter and acerbic wit of Nelligan's Catherine.

The bizarre mix of dialect (meshing up the area's Scots/Irish/Canadian ancestry), along with the transformation from picture perfect young lady to wild woman of the islands, may take a while to get used to, but against the backdrop of a desolate charcoal-hued landscape the film delivers its tragic love story with gentle passion and charm.

Against the backdrop of a desolate charcoal-hued landscape the film delivers its tragic love story with gentle passion and charm.