Starring Greta Gerwig, Ethan Hawke, Julianne Moore, Bill Hadar, Maya Rudolf, Travis Fimmel
The worst thing about Maggie’s Plan is that there isn’t enough screen time for SNL alums Bill Hadar and Maya Rudolf, who give such presence and entertainment to their supporting characters. Rebecca Miller’s film Maggie’s Plan is basically a Woody Allen film with fresh insight, delightful performances and a surprisingly toned down Gerwig. It’s no secret that Gerwig, who is playing a slightly different variation of herself in every single film, has worn me out. Miller, unlike her frequent collaborator/director/boyfriend Noah Baumbach, isn’t solely infatuated with the blond indie actress, so she is a working piece of this story, not’s it’s obsessive focus. Maggie’s Plan is light relationship comedy for adults, mildly thought provoking and whimsically entertaining.
Unable to keep a relationship alive for longer than six months, Maggie (Gerwig) wants nothing more than to have a child. She just doesn’t necessarily need a husband, or relationship to go with it. Only when she decides on a sperm donor, does she fall in love with her married co-worker John (Hawke). Maggie and John have a daughter together, but soon she realizes that John is still very attached to his wife Georgette (Moore). She also feels guilty for ruining their family and isn’t sure she wants or needs John in her life anymore. Maggie and Georgette come together and devise a plan to get John back with his original family, the unwitting pawn, played by both of the women in his life.
It’s the strength of the supporting actors, including Hadar and Rudolph, that make this film worth the time.
Maggie’s Plan is a comedy that doesn’t bash the viewer over the head with jokes or easy humor. The comedy here is underlying, it’s ironic, useful, often hurtful. All the performances here are good, actually they grow to be good. The first time you see and hear Moore in this ridiculous accent it’s jarring, but somehow the Oscar winning actress slowly makes you forget she is Moore and becomes Georgette. Moore isn’t given good comedy roles often enough, neither is Hawke, but here they shine. The writing style and dialogue feel very familiar, like Allen’s Irrational Man or Magic in the Moonlight, yet it feels mature, modern and unserved.
Gerwig is tolerable here, for those who have a resistance to her style of acting as I do. Many of her films never go one scene without her on screen; Maggie’s plan does it often, despite her character’s name in the title. It’s the strength of the supporting actors, including Hadar and Rudolph, that make this film worth the time. “I like you. You are so pure, and a little bit stupid,” Georgette confesses to Maggie. That conversation describes the entire movie which tackles a variety of issues from the female perspective. The plot is never the most important element to Maggie’s Plan and that’s one of the reasons it succeeds, it’s about the delivery, not the destination.
The best Woody Allen film not written or directed by Woody Allen.