Written for RAF News July 2016
In wont of a child but unable to find a partner, Maggie (Greta Gerwig) settles for a surrogate in a gormless but poetic pickle farmer. This is just as she meets John (Ethan Hawke) and although he has a family already, it is obvious that there is a connection and that they are bound to be together, but who can say for how long.
Maggie and John meet at the college where they both work, she is in the arts he is in social science but with aspirations of writing fiction. She is desperate to be a mother but he already has children with the formidable and tightly wound author Georgette (Julianne Moore). In basing this triangle of characters in academia they have sharp wit and quick retorts, they are able to draw poetic allegories of their own situations, as well as being utterly pretentious and narcissistic at the best of times
Passing mentions of Pussy Riot and Slavoj Zizek place this story in time and tells us about the type of people we’re dealing with: self-aware progressives – acknowledging the futility a family dinner when they all have business to attend to on their phones.
The film is wrapped up in the intellect and self-awareness of it’s characters, it dances around the typical beats of an indie romantic-comedy and offers an intellectual spin. It never drops its frenetic pace, jumping forward in time to Maggie and John with a 3 year old child of their own. Not as happy as she had imagined herself to be, this is where the second part of Maggie’s plan is put into action: to get John and Georgette back together, to put him back where she found him.
The film maintains a light tone with an upbeat ska and reggae soundtrack, but it is the ramped up, borderline android performance of Julianne Moore’s Danish author that tips the film into farce. This is a gamble which pays off. A perfect counterpoint to the drama underlying the story.
Maggie’s Plan twists the rom-com into an intellectual screwball comedy, unlike it’s characters never taking itself too seriously. It is offbeat, clever and funny throughout.