Maggie's Plan


Reviewed by: Robert Munro

Maggie's Plan, part of this year's Best of the Fest
"Director Rebecca Miller gets terrific performances out of an admittedly terrific cast."

Greta Gerwig stars in this neurotic screwball comedy, which is often very funny and, thankfully, quite aware of its more pretentious affectations. Maggie's Plan very much falls into the Gerwig-Baumbach category of Allen-esque, New York set films, about well-educated, middle class thirty-somethings, struggling with their first world problems.

Maggie's particular problem is that she wants a baby, but can't stay in a relationship for more than six months. However a mix-up with a pay cheque introduces her to someone new, arch-intellectual John (Ethan Hawke) who is a Professor in Ficto-Critical Anthropology (no, I don't know either). John is unhappily married to Georgette (Julianne Moore), an even more brilliant academic, and has two children of his own. John and Maggie strike up a relationship over John's manuscript for the great novel he is trying to write.

Copy picture

In order to facilitate the birth of a child, Maggie co-opts an ex-college friend, the very intense pickle entrepreneur Guy, to donate his sperm to the task. However, as the insemination procedure is beginning, in a very funny scene in the bath, John rings the buzzer and once in the flat, and unaware of the, ahem, sticky situation Maggie is in, confesses his love for her.

The film proceeds at a pace we would expect of a screwball comedy, with three years snipped out of the proceedings - though there are a few jokes about the lack of ageing of the other children in the film. In the intervening years Maggie and John marry, and have a daughter, Lily. Yet Maggie finds that her marriage to John isn't all she hoped it would be. So, in classic screwball fashion, Maggie concocts a caper to reunite John with his ex-wife. John is the poor, self-obsessed schlub at the heart of this, around whom Georgette and Maggie make their plans.

Director Rebecca Miller gets terrific performances out of an admittedly terrific cast. Julianne Moore is particularly wonderful as the elusive Georgette, while both Maya Rudolph and Bill Hader provide comedic support as the couple whose own misanthropic relationship makes them particularly useless in giving advice to Maggie. But leading this film's particular brand of whimsy is Gerwig, who is surely one of the most watchable actresses working today. While in Mistress America and Frances Ha there was something rather narcissistic in her wonderful brand of louche ennui, there is greater depth in her performance here, best displayed in the quite frankly adorable scenes with her daughter Lily.

Rebecca Miller has adapted this from an unpublished novella by Karen Rinaldi, and there is real pleasure to be had in the film's off-beat, rough edges and the way in which the film ends pretty much back where it started, albeit with Maggie having become the mother she desperately wanted to be. Maggie's Plan is a light, breezy joy which is only let down by the seeming promise of an appearance by Slavoj Zizek which never materialises. Perhaps that would've been a stretch too far.

Reviewed on: 16 Jun 2016
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A young woman’s determination to have a child catapults her into a nervy love triangle.
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Director: Rebecca Miller

Writer: Rebecca Miller, Rebecca Miller, Karen Rinaldi

Starring: Julianne Moore, Travis Fimmel, Bill Hader, Ethan Hawke, Maya Rudolph, Greta Gerwig, Wallace Shawn, Alex Morf, Mina Sundwall, Kathleen Hanna, Jackson Frazer, Sue Jean Kim, Fredi Walker-Browne, Leetopher Scott, Monte Greene

Year: 2015

Runtime: 92 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US

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