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Review: Maggie’s Plan

June 10, 2016

By John Corrado

★★★ (out of 4)

Maggies Plan PosterMaggie (Greta Gerwig) is perpetually single, but wants to have a baby and considers herself ready to be a mother.  Determined to raise the raise the child on her own, she is all set to go through with artificial insemination with her friend (Travis Fimmel), when she meets the attractive John Harding (Ethan Hawke), a professor and celebrated writer at the university where she works.

Although John is married and already has a family with his icy wife Georgette (Julianne Moore), Maggie becomes captivated by him, and the two embark on an affair.  But fade through to three years later, and things aren’t going as well as she hoped, forcing Maggie to concoct a new plan.

Although Maggie’s Plan is occasionally let down by its somewhat sillier populist impulses, including a few broader moments of comedy that undermine the material, writer-director Rebecca Miller’s often sharp screenplay draws its biggest laughs from some very witty dialogue.  And her cast of great actors keeps things enjoyably moving along.  Greta Gerwig is essentially playing another variation of her charming but slightly daffy dreamer character who doesn’t always realize her own narcissism, a persona that she has already honed very well by this point in superior films like Mistress America, but is nevertheless always enjoyable to watch.

Julianne Moore seems to be having fun disappearing inside her heavily accented if somewhat caricatured role, and there is also some amusing supporting work from Bill Hader and Maya Rudolph as the married but constantly arguing mutual friends.  But the best performance in Maggie’s Plan comes courtesy of Ethan Hawke, who elevates the material and injects genuine depth beyond his character’s apparent selfishness, making us feel sympathy for this man torn between the intentions of those around him.

The film can rely a little too heavily on following predictable narrative beats from the indie dramedy playbook, but with likeable performances from its excellent cast, Maggie’s Plan is an entertaining enough romp through love triangles and relationship problems, that features some sharply delivered dialogue.  And it’s all unexpectedly held together by the always reliable Ethan Hawke.

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