Thursday 28 July 2016

Film Review: Maggie's Plan

Maggie's Plan is an indie romantic-comedy starring Greta Gerwig, Ethan Hawke and Julianne Moore. 

Gerwig plays the titular Maggie with a plan; she lives in New York, works at nearby college and hopes to one day have a baby, even if it means she has to look after it all by herself in the pokey hipster apartment where she lives amongst piles upon piles of dusty old books.

One day, Maggie meets John (Hawke), an intelligent and eager author who works at the same college. The two hit it off and spend hours discussing his attempts at writing a novel - except, there's a hitch. John is trapped in a loveless marriage with Georgette (Moore), making his attraction to Maggie more than a little troubling. Caught in a love triangle between the icy spouses, Maggie's plan to raise a child might have to be put on hold for a while - or so she thinks.

Maggie's Plan is one of those sweet, understated films that you happen upon without really expecting too much. Director Rebecca Miller has composed a sweet, poignant yarn that examines, amongst other things, our desire to create our own perfect personal outcome, despite that not always being a realistic option on offer. Maggie initially stumbles into a relationship with John, drawn by his poetic vernacular, raggedy clothes and softy-spoken wishes of something better away from his imposing wife.

Interestingly, Maggie's Plan isn't constrained by its initial premise. The story takes a number of leaps and time jumps to follow Maggie, John and Georgette's intersecting personal lives across several years, an element that most romantic-comedies resign to a sugary 'happily ever after'. Pleasingly, Maggie's Plan shows us how these sought after bookends aren't rewarded after a few weeks of passionate love, a fiery argument and a rain-soaked reunion.

Relationships are punctuated with highs and lows are that strung across months and years, and Maggie's Plan strives to illustrate this at length (sometimes to a fault). The conclusion isn't sugary but instead sedated, leaving the story and its characters at a place that doesn't feel rushed or forced. It does take a lot of meandering to get there though.

The acting talent is robust; Gerwig steers the titular character a touch too close to tiresome manic pixie dream girl tropes at times, but her performance is otherwise good. Hawke does a great job of exploring the contrasting sides of his lax author whilst Moore is having a lot of fun as the scorned and bossy Danish wife. Travis Fimmel is a million miles away from his role as Durotan; here he plays a shaggy and shy pickle salesman. It's cute and quirky supporting characters played by Bill Hader and Maya Rudolph that steal the show though.

The Verdict: 6.5/10

It's cute and moving in the moment, Maggie's Plan is a fresh but rather fleeting take on the romantic-comedy that pains itself with rejecting genre cliches and cheesy meet-cutes.

Maggie's Plan is in cinemas across Australia now


  1. Great review, you liked this a bit more than I did. I was really disappointed and I could never understand what Maggie saw in Ethan in the first place.

    1. Yeah that's true - maybe it was that rocking goatee? ;)



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