After a decade of not-so-prime acting gigs, from ”Days of Our Lives” to ”Perry Mason: The Case of the Killer Kiss,” Moncrieff decided what she really wanted to do was…you guessed it. ”I became kind of bored being one piece in someone else’s puzzle,” says the 38-year-old Northwestern University theater grad. ”I wanted to be the one designing the puzzle.” So came the story about Meg (Bruckner), a high schooler roiling over her absent father, a distracted mother (Colin), and a little sister (Arnold) who’s cutting herself to deal with the pain. Meg channels her bewilderment into poetry and a maybe-too-close friendship with Auster, her English teacher (Strathairn, for whom Moncrieff wrote the part).
The script won a 1998 Nicholl Fellowship — a meaty cash endowment from none other than the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Four years later, Miramax got ”Blue” at the 2002 Sundance Film Festival, and Moncrieff was introduced to the studio system. This included goodies like a spanking new score, but also the requisite test screening — where the audience reported drastically disliking a frank and painful sex scene involving young Meg. ”Literally more than half the audience wrote that that was the scene they hated the most,” says Moncrieff, who refused to cut it. ”I was like, It’s not supposed to be pleasant, it’s supposed to be awful and harrowing.”
THE LOWDOWN After ”Tadpole,” ”Y Tu Mamá También,” and ”The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys,” this girl’s coming-of-age flick may be a welcome Cinderella story.