Featuring a remarkable performance from Helena Bonham Carter, Margaret’s Museum is an emotionally charged story about one woman’s fight against the tyranny of the coal mine in her tiny Nova Scotia community.
The script [from a short story by Sheldon Currie] takes a witheringly tough stance on the deadly toll exacted by life – and death – in the coal mines. The title refers to the shrine that Margaret MacNeil (Bonham Carter) builds to commemorate her dead family members, and this bizarre, ghoulish museum features various body parts preserved in all their gore.
Story opens with Margaret’s first encounter with her future husband, Neil Currie (Clive Russell). Margaret isn’t swept off her feet by this unkempt fellow, but she is curious enough to bring him home to her mother (Kate Nelligan).
Despite her mother’s protests, Neil and Margaret marry after a steamy courtship. Everything is going fine until economic reality rears its ugly head and Neil announces he has to once again don the miner’s helmet.
This is Bonham Carter’s film from start to finish, and she delivers a stunning performance that’s chock-full of emotion, sensuality and rage. Scottish thesp Russell is also first-rate. The only weak link is Nelligan as Margaret’s mother in a one-dimensional performance.