Anna Paquin plays a 17-year-old New York high school student whose kerbside antics distract a bus driver (Mark Ruffalo), resulting in him shooting a red light and killing a pedestrian. Traumatised with guilt, she lashes out at her luvvie mom, causes trouble at school and launches into a catharsis-seeking bid to find out who the victim really was. Writer/director Kenneth Lonergan demonstrates his gift for dialogue and ear for the absurd in a sprawling, spiky drama which mines a rich vein of post-9/11 paranoia.
It's all a bit of fun for carefree scholarship student Lisa (Paquin) when she tries to flag down a New York City bus because the driver is wearing a cowboy hat she covets.
Minutes later she's cradling a blood-drenched woman as her life ebbs away and the driver - whose bus careered into the victim after jumping a red light - helplessly looks on.
Outwardly, Lisa appears unaffected but her decision to lie to police to protect the stricken driver provokes a guilt-driven trauma which gradually manifests itself in the way she treats those around her.
Mum (Smith-Cameron) - a divorced actress embarking on a tentative relationship with Jean Reno's Latin American software executive - is treated with contempt and her efforts to empathise with her troubled daughter drenched in acid derision.
At school, Lisa flirts with idealistic teacher Matt Damon, allows herself to be incompetently seduced by one of the Culkin family and fires up a right old row with a Syrian student by virtue of her cattishly provocative remarks about America's so-called war on terror.
Most bizarrely, she piously embarks on a self-righteous crusade to have the bus driver prosecuted, roping in the victim's best friend (Berlin, excellent) and money-grabbing cousin to launch a civil action.
Writer/director Kenneth Lonergan's lengthy drama (it weighs in at 150 minutes) survived an editing room bloodbath and court battle with producers to emerge, if not unscathed, then bristling with enough cracking performances and scalpel sharp dialogue to hold the attention for its marathon length.
Paquin - a 29-year-old playing a teenager - is outstanding as the bolshie adolescent doggedly pursuing a mawkish retribution, exquisitely delivering Lonergan's drily painful bon mots while trying the patience as flakey torch for truth...if not justice.
Another Margaret not for turning.