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Watch an Awkward Party Scene in ‘Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret’ | Anatomy of a Scene

NYT, 01 May 2023
A party game becomes the source of dramatic tension in “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret,” the screen adaptation of Judy Blume’s beloved novel about adolescence.

In this sequence, Margaret (Abby Ryder Fortson) attends a party at the home of one of her classmates. Things get rowdy when Nancy (Elle Graham) proposes a game for the group: Two Minutes in the Closet. The girls are all given numbers. The boys draw those numbers from a bowl. The two people whose numbers match retreat to the closet, or in this case, a guest bathroom, for two minutes.

The director and screenwriter Kelly Fremon Craig staged the scene in a heightened way, creating a thriller-like intensity while also playing key moments for laughs.

“Where I placed all of the actors was a conscious decision,” Craig said in an interview, because it was important to me how far they had to walk to get to each other, how far Margaret had to walk to get to the bathroom, all of those things.”

In addition to the blocking, the scene comes together through a combination of performance, lighting and song selection, with the Dusty Springfield hit “Son of a Preacher Man” helping to further elevate it.

“This was the luckiest I’ve ever gotten on a needle drop,” Craig said, recalling that she and her editor haphazardly added the song during the editing process. “It wound up that it scored the moment so perfectly that we couldn’t believe it. And actually, we have never moved it, even a single frame from that very first time we dropped it in.”

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