What Maisie Knew is in the same vein as a Kramer vs. Kramer. It's the heartbreaking story of the end of a relationship told through the eyes of a little girl. What makes this film different and highly emotional, is that the film is not about the separation necessarily, it's just the catalyst for what the story is really about.
Maisie's parents (played by Steve Coogan and Julainne Moore) are breaking up. They're both self-centered people who are the sole reason as to why they have issues, and poor Maisie gets caught up in the middle of their self-centered battles. However, there is a shimmer of light for Maisie when both parents get remarried and Maisie's new stepparents are thrust into having to care for this girl who has been neglected for so long by her biological parents.
I think what this film illuminates so well, is that just because someone is a child's biological parent, does not mean that they are actually a mother or a father, it takes someone who is genuinely special to fill that role. While the film never gives us much closure, and often dips into melodrama, as a whole, this is a film made by the sweetness of the relationships between Maisie and her stepparents, and a large part of this is due to Onata Aprile's wonderfully innocent performance as Maisie.
I give What Maisie Knew an A-!