The previous films of director Rebecca Miller have been sharp and unapologetically indulgent, with perhaps just the faintest hint of yearning for worthiness. Maggie’s Plan is her latest work and it’s a logical and gratifying evolution for Miller as a filmmaker. The production masks its sharpness in an ongoing parade of silly yet almost credible occurrences. Greta Gerwig, the indie-darling who few had heard of just a couple of years ago, plays Maggie who, rather unsurprisingly, has a plan. Her clear, anticipated path to single motherhood veers off course after she meets and becomes enamoured with John (Ethan Hawke). With a rather playful lack of ceremony, the film then jumps a few years into the future, where Maggie seemingly has everything she wants.
As Maggie, Gerwig plays it relatively straight. Her filmography hasn’t resulted in a varied body of work, but she’s so darn likeable in the role that her plan for life is something that results in an organic, effortless investment from the audience, and this is despite the triteness of the film’s title. It’s up to the supporting characters to inject elements of almost screwball comedy into the proceedings. This is particularly true of Julianne Moore who makes an appearance later in the film with a brilliantly shameless Danish accent. Bill Hader and Maya Rudolph are equally excellent in their less showy supporting roles.
The film is undeniably a romantic comedy, but it doesn’t suffer from the yawn-inducing obviousness that other more mainstream inclusions in the genre tend to do. While Maggie’s Plan could easily be consigned to the oddball indie arena, it’s infinitely more accessible than Miller’s previous efforts as a writer/director. It’s not going to surprise audiences, but the fact that plans for life rarely go as anticipated is hardly a revelation. There’s a warmth to Maggie’s Plan, and it’s worth it simply to see Julianne Moore in a broadly comedic role.
Maggie’s Plan is released in the UK on 8th July 2016.
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