Written, directed and produced by Rebecca Miller, Maggie’s Plan is a spontaneous and whimsical piece of magic starring the impeccable Greta Gerwig. We meet Maggie on the cusp of a life altering decision. Making the choice to artificially inseminate herself with the produce of an aspiring pickle entrepreneur, Maggie is looking towards motherhood – content in her choice to raise a child alone without the need for a romantic entanglement with said father. Determined to maintain control over her destiny, Maggie does her best to fix and manipulate all situations around her. Suddenly skipping forward three years, the film enters a new chapter where we find Maggie with both husband and child – the results of a passionate and loving affair with a married man. When her relationship begins to dwindle and her love deteriorates for the man she stole from another woman, Maggie spies an opportunity to glue the shattered past back together. In a chaotic attempt to reunite her husband John (Ethan Hawke) with his ex-wife Georgette (Julianne Moore), Maggie quickly discovers the catastrophes that occur when you try to force the metaphorical toothpaste back in the tube. A witty and wonderful Woody Allen-esque charade, Maggie’s Plan boasts a strong cast with Hawke and Moore both bringing a rawness that compliments Gerwig’s more wistful charm. Bill Hader and Maya Rudolph are vibrant additions to the supporting cast and a brief appearance from Wallace Shawn only highlights the inspiration drawn from Allen’s greats, such as Manhattan.
The plot’s unpredictability remains the film’s most joyous feature and something that ironically drives our protagonist mad. The central trio of characters are unpacked and examined whilst Maggie attempts to pack them back up into convenient, small boxes. Maggie’s Plan is all about celebrating the unconventional – from parenthood, marriage, and relationships with ex-partners to the way we are expected to deal with our love stories ending – be it bitterly or harmoniously. Gerwig’s uninhibited character thinks out loud in the way that Alvy Singer does in Annie Hall. In the company of strong, honest friendships Maggie explores her own ideas about relationships, love and sex. The film’s most moving scenes come when we see Maggie as a mother – the rare moments where she seems centred, certain and relaxed. It’s this deeply moving image of simultaneous motherhood and sisterhood that’s stuck with me since leaving the screen two days ago. It’s delightful to see Julianne Moore and Ethan Hawke continuing their work in the indie sector. At the same time its delightful to see Greta Gerwig holding her own alongside Hollywood greats such as these. The city forms a perfect backdrop for the action that’s unfolding – as it so often does in movies like these. The seasons come and go around Maggie and emotions change like the colour of the leaves on the street corner trees. Maggie’s Plan is delicately handled by all involved and comes together to form one endearing and rather stylish piece.
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