Leah Dubuc’s review published on Letterboxd:
logging for the director's cut specifically-
wow holy shit what a difference an edit makes. watching the theatrical version of this film before seeing the director's cut makes it pretty clear that the shortened version is a jumbled, overtrimmed mess.
it's a really good example of a film where scenes that maybe don't move the plot forward, like of characters interracting living their lives, and navigating small in between moments do so much work to inform character's behavior and decisions later on even if they don't have a 1 to 1 connection in the plot.
beyond that the theatrical cut cheats j smith cameron's character and really muddles the mother / daughter arc, while trying to make it the central emotional core of the film.
the director's cut plays like more of a high tone lady bird, where a mother / daughter relationship is strained due to immense trauma. but we see so many moments of lisa's arc that inform the many ways she acts out to deal with her grief until finally reaching some catharsis. and it also shows the waves of progress she goes through in a much more realistic way.
the original cut of this film is night and day to the cut i saw before. it makes me angry that it was even released at the shorter run time. the relationship between lisa and her english teacher is changed to make him seem creepier, while taking out major context for events that are mentioned later in their plotline.
lonergen's cut also has a continued motif of interjected background dialogue as a means of deflating what would be dramatic moments that is so unique to this film, i can see why a studio would hate it but it feels so central to the sense of time and place of the story it's crazy it was taken out. an incredible cut scene early on shows lisa in a quiet argument from a distance with no audible sound as other people surrounding her in a restaurant talk loudly, as the camera slowly pushes in on her.
overall, such an interesting watch. i hope no one ever sees the theatrical cut again. movies. should. be. longer.