Anna Paquin in 'Margaret': What the Critics Are Saying

Myles Aronowitz/Fox Searchlight

Kenneth Lonergan's long-delayed movie also stars Matt Damon, Mark Ruffalo, Allison Janney and Kieran Culkin.

Kenneth Lonergan's long-delayed follow-up to his acclaimed debut, 2000’s You Can Count on Me, finally hits theaters Friday.

The movie stars Anna Paquin as a smart, angry teen who embarks on a mission whose ostensible goal is justice on behalf of an accident victim but which serves more directly to forestall her own pain and guilt over the role she played in the horrific event.

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Matt Damon, Mark Ruffalo, Allison Janney and Kieran Culkin also star in the movie, from Fox Searchlight.

The movie was originally slated for release in 2007 but was delayed by legal battles surrounding a protracted struggle in the editing room.

In fact, Margaret was actually shot in 2005, before Paquin -- an Oscar winner at age !!!! for The Piano -- was cast in HBO's True Blood. So what do the critics have to say about her performance?

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The Hollywood Reporter's Sheri Linden wrote that the actress is convincing in the role and gives credit to the director.

"Lonergan has a sure touch with actors, and his portrait of upper-middle-class, intellectual New Yorkers never feels false, even if the dramatic impact remains more theoretical than felt," she wrote.

The Associated Press critic Jake Coyle was more effusive in his praise of the actress.

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"Paquin is exceptional," he wrote. "Even if she hadn't become a star from True Blood since Margaret was filmed, this performance -- searching, ferocious -- would have done the trick."

Time's Mary Pols echoed that sentiment.

"Paquin is spectacular," she wrote. "The character is almost too precocious, prone to dropping George Bernard Shaw phrases into her speech -- 'Not that I want to make this woman's death into my own personal moral gymnasium.'Yet in Paquin's hands, Lisa is completely believable, and the realization of the potential the actress showed in supporting roles in 25th Hour and The Squid and the Whale."

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Rex Reed of the New York Observer also had praise for the actress, if not the movie itself.

"Anna Paquin delivers a very fine performance in the very odd starring role of a very bewildering film," he wrote.

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Times film critic Betsy Sharkey had a hard time believing Paquin in the role.

"Paquin, as good as she is, is such an old soul that it's hard to buy her as a teenager, even a precocious one," she wrote.