Hipster rom-com “it girl” Greta Gerwig, stars in what appears to be another story of love gone awry in the streets of New York. Yet Maggie’s Plan offers a little more than it first appears.
From a young age Maggie (Greta Gerwig) has had to be self sufficient. Unfortunately that means that any romantic relationship is lucky to last 6 months. Still she has a plan, on how to deal with this. While in the process of organising a sperm donor for her pregnancy, she meets and falls in love with a charming academic, John (Ethan Hawke), who’s marriage is on the rocks. Three years and a child later, she begins to realise what a mistake John is for her. However she starts to formulate another plan, this time to get him back with his wife Georgette (Julianne Moore).
There is a controlled breadth of scope in the script writing that gives the major characters needed depth and motivation. They seem like realised individuals, complex in their own way, with fleshed out wants and behaviours. Ethan Hawke, Julianne Moore and even Travis Fimmel (after his lacklustre performance in Warcraft) bring a lot of life to a collection of oddball characters. Maggie especially, gives Greta Gerwig something more to inhabit than yet another clone of her Frances Ha role. She is caring, giving and aware of others, sometimes more than her own needs and wants. She is also incredibly self sufficient, and competent (in a fashion). When these various factors come into conflict, is when trouble arises. Hence she can be manipulative and controlling, in the most gentle and subtle way possible.
That tendency for over intellectualisation is the sticking point for many of the characters. In the constant analysis of actions they often forget about emotions. John’s struggle with his novel, Georgette’s agony about every decision, and Maggie makes long ranging plans. The film takes great glee in lampooning this, and that tendency to navel gaze in academia. There is more than a dash of Woody Allen here, in its celebration of neurotic over analysis, and its New York setting. Yet Maggie’s Plan is also gentler on its characters, suggesting that there might be hope for them rather than just a stinging social commentary. Ultimately they are accepted for their flaws, and that is part of what makes them.
A thoughtful comedy about the tendency to over-think matters of the heart. Maggie’s plan woos with both charm and intellect.