A charmingly hopeful romantic pickle starring Greta Gerwig doing quintessential Greta Gerwig
Maggie (Greta Gerwig) has decided that she’s going to have a baby. She isn’t in a relationship so, as an independent New Yorker, she’s going to do it the modern way by asking a nice, handsome, sane-seeming stranger (Travis Fimmel) to w*nk into a cup and deliver it to her apartment for solo conception. While she’s going through this process, Maggie strikes up a flirtation with John (Ethan Hawke), a guest lecturer at the college where she works. John is married to Georgette (Julianne Moore), a severe woman who wears complicated knitwear and rarely smiles. They all get themselves, over several years, into a significant romantic pickle.
Rebecca Miller, writer-director of The Private Lives Of Pippa Lee and The Ballad Of Jack And Rose, takes stories that sound straightforward and muddles them up in intriguing and surprising ways. Maggie’s Plan has the bones of a romcom – ditzy leading lady, quippy friends, a romantic confusion that would be sorted out in minutes if everyone just sat down and reasoned it out – but Miller puts all those bones together in a weird order that’s very, very funny but not really romantic. We won’t spoil where the plot goes, although it’s in gentle curves rather than shocking twists, but it’s certainly not about who Maggie will wind up with.
If you’ve seen Greta Gerwig in other movies, you’ll know the type of character she’s playing here. This isn’t a sleight on her. Gerwig plays women who are very intelligent yet a bit detached from reality. They’re all of a type – Frances in Frances Ha, Brooke in Mistress America – but none are really the same person. She has a style, in the way that Woody Allen or Hugh Grant does, but it’s one so refined and likeable that it’s far from an issue. She can sell a line with no actual joke in it and make it hilarious. She has a slyly funny soul.
This is a movie that’s very hard to put in a box, so there’s no need to try. For all the cynicism it shows about falling foolishly in love, it has a charm and hope in its heart that’s impossible to resist. It’s not giddy, but it’s hopeful.
Stars: Greta Gerwig, Ethan Hawke, Julianne Moore
Director: Rebecca Miller
Release date: 08 Jul, 2016