Maggie’s Plan (Sundance Review)
Featuring dazzling performances from an all-star cast led by Greta Gerwig, Ethan Hawke, Julianne Moore, and Bill Hader, Rebecca Miller (The Ballad of Jack and Rose, The Private Lives of Pippa Lee) delivers a brilliant genre-bending film that works on many levels. Equal parts whimsical, rom-com, and highbrow, Maggie’s Plan feels like a Woody Allen film.
Greta Gerwig plays Maggie, a free-spirited neurotic character we’ve gotten used to seeing her play over the last few years (Lola Versus, Frances Ha, and Mistress America, to name a few). She decides she’s ready to have a baby, despite her good friend (a wisecracking Bill Hader) begging her to reconsider this idea. Maggie becomes desperate enough that she’s willing to accept a sperm donation from a goofy former classmate for artificial insemination. But her plan changes (as the title suggests) when she meets a handsome novelist John (the always wonderful Ethan Hawke). They begin spending more and more time with each other, and once it’s revealed that he’s going through some marital issues with his wife (Julianne Moore), it’s easy to see where the story is heading. But this is when the film does something interesting. It jumps ahead three years to show Maggie with a kid of her own and now married to John. Gradually, Maggie begins to feel neglected and wonders if she made a mistake marrying John. So, Maggie comes up with a new plan.
One of the best qualities of Maggie’s Plan is that, just when you think you know what’s going to happen next, Miller throws a curveball at the traditional story arc. Maggie’s Plan provides interesting perspectives relationships and love, suggesting that love is messy and that it’s not about who you want to spend the rest of your life with, as much as it’s about figuring out who you can’t spend your life without. The only shortcoming is a drawn out third-act that could be trimmed down by about 15 minutes. But aside from that, the film is an absolute delight.