In Maggie’s Plan, Greta Gerwig plays the titular character, a woman on the verge of artificially inseminating herself with the DNA of a former college acquaintance-turned-pickle-entrepreneur named Guy (played by Vikings‘ Travis Fimmel). Gerwig is someone who I always feel would make a great muse for Woody Allen. She was indeed in a Woody Allen film, To Rome with Love, before she was more well known but it’s a surprise that she hasn’t done more with him. Interestingly enough, writer/director Rebecca Miller’s film feels a lot like a Woody Allen film; great, jazzy score, deeply felt New York inhabitants and a quick wit from a smart and funny script.
When Maggie meets John (Boyhood‘s Ethan Hawke), a married “ficto-critical anthropologist” mired in writing his great American novel, she diverts her single mother plans by falling in love for the first time. Gerwig delivers her best performance to date here, finding a delicate balance between assertive intelligence and charming naiveté, it that feels like a more mature version of her characters from Frances Ha and Mistress America (which, for me, ran the gamut of blindly foolish to willfully arrogant). Also featuring Bill Hader and Maya Rudolph as Maggie’s ex and co-worker, respectively, Maggie’s Plan is a rich slice of Manhattan dramedy; full of humor and observation of modern romance that’s never too bitter or too sentimental.
Oscar-winner Julianne Moore (I will never, ever tire of saying that) shines at John’s Danish wife Georgette. She brilliantly balances the icy tone of a self-absorbed academic with the acerbic wit and timing of a true comedian. Her costuming is a glorious parade of oversized sweaters that make her look like a sheep that’s lost a ton of weight. Her accent is reminiscent of her Maude Lebowski from The Coen brothers’ The Big Lebowski and it’s delicious to hear her roll out lines like “No one unpacks commodity fetishism like you do” as a form foreplay sex talk.
Maggie’s Plan plays SFIFF59 on April 23, 2016 at 6:00 p.m. at the Victoria Theatre and April 26, 2016 at 3:00 p.m. at the Alamo Drafthouse New Mission. Go here for tickets. It will be released by Sony Pictures Classics in NY and LA on May 20th and wider May 27th.