Director: Rebecca Miller (2016) BBFC cert. 15
The best laid plans of Greta Gerwig go awry in this New York comedy of manners.
As Maggie she is forever interfering in the lives of others and must learn restraint in order to find her own happiness.
She’s a sensible shoe wearing singleton who is ready to have a kid but lacks a boyfriend. Her scheme to inseminate herself via a sperm donor is interrupted by the appearance of John, a hunky academic.
This doesn’t endear Maggie to his wife Georgette and their kids. Ethan Hawke and Julianne Moore enjoy themselves as the feckless, self pitying, dishonest man child and his ferociously poised Danish wife.
The script gives John the anthropologist a forensic examination and finds the behaviour of this modern man severely wanting. But it also has the heart to allow the him at least a small measure of self respect.
Bill Hader and Maya Rudolph offer Maggie an alternative view of life as home truth dispensing best friends and Travis Fimmel is sweet as a lyrical pickle entrepreneur.
As a director Miller is in love with the city and it’s full of therapy, hipster beards, wooly hats, street entertainers, health food, ice skating and outdoor markets, but keeps its quirky mannerisms to a thankful minimum.
And her script obeys the rules of a romcom while functioning as a commentary on our atomised society, one which is indifferent to reducing conception to a mechanical process involving a syringe and a smart phone app.
Maggie’s Plan plays as an updated version of Jane Austen’s Emma filtered through Woody Allen, and is an honest, sharp and very funny look at modern life.