SFIFF Review: Maggie's Plan
This movie is either about time, or relationships, or the way in which the two work together to form, de-form and re-form reality. Every day that passes means your relationships have changed. And if you're mapping out enough relationships over enough time, you start to see the wild ways your life can unfold around you. That is Maggie's Plan in a nutshell. The inventive way Rebecca Miller's film plays with these concepts is its main strength.
Maggie's Plan tells the story an independent woman, Maggie (played by Greta Gerwig) living in New York City, who decides she wants to have a baby on her own. With the help of a college acquaintance, she begins the insemination process. Things get complicated when she falls in love with an academic named John (played by Ethan Hawke), whose marriage to Georgette, a brilliant Columbia professor, is in shambles.
A marriage and a few years later and Maggie starts to have second thoughts. Maggie decides she is no longer in love with John and wants to somehow get him to go back to his ex-wife. Through a series of calculated moves, Maggie does her best to make this happen and hilarity ensues.
The magic of Maggie's Plan is in the idea that time is what makes our relationships what they are. Maggie exists at the center of a web created by her various past relationships and all of these characters have meant different things to her at different times. Tony (played wonderfully by Bill Hader), for instance, is a former boyfriend of hers who now plays the role of confidant in her time of need. Tony is married to Felicia (played by Maya Rudolph), who chimes in with her own hilarious advice when needed. This complicated and ever-changing web of relationships felt so authentic on screen.
The Supporting turns from Bill Hader and Maya Rudolph were great. They certainly had chemistry and offered some of the best laughs in the film. But the best performance in the movie came from the always solid Julianne Moore. She was wonderful as the flawed, overbearing, brilliant college professor who drives away and then tries to win back her husband. The thick Danish accent she puts on only adds to the deadpan delivery she does so well.
Maggie's Plan isn't perfect, but it has plenty of heart. Watching Maggie's "plan" go from having a baby on her own to getting her husband to go back to his ex-wife is a delight. In the end, the movie laughs at our conceit in thinking we get to make plans and have them work out. Sometimes the relationships you have will become something you didn't expect and you'll just have to come up with a new plan.
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