Directed by Rebecca Miller
Maggie 's plan to have a baby on her own is derailed when she falls in love with John, a married man, destroying his volatile marriage to the brilliant and impossible Georgette. But one daughter and three years later, Maggie is out of love and in a quandary: what do you do when you suspect your man and his ex wife are actually perfect for each other?
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★★★½ review by isa on Letterboxd
me when julianne moore does anything: holy god in heaven look at julianne moore doing things. the world is good and I am at peace
★★★★ review by Jonathan Rosenbaum on Letterboxd
If Woody Allen really knew how to make movies, one of them would look like this.
★★★½ review by Richie Schumann on Letterboxd
I have about 300 movies in my collection and I've probably only seen 2/3's of them, films like La Dolce Vita, Chinatown, Harakiri, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, Once Upon a Time in The West, among others, but I will decide to watch a movie I know is average bc Greta Gerwig is in it.
★★★½ review by Savannah Oakes on Letterboxd
Maggie’s Plan is at first overwrought with exposition that doesn’t entrust its seasoned actors to convey their relationships and personalities. Somewhere towards the end of the first act writer/director Rebecca Miller lets the exposition flutter away and we are left with characters that feel surprising whole. The script conquers its inherent pretentiousness--starring Greta Gerwig, starring Ethan Hawke, in the world of academia, white people, New York City/Brooklyn setting, etc.--and allow the faults and follies of its characters to be acknowledged despite the often comical ironies.
Greta Gerwig is an actress I am never sure if I like. Perhaps, I dislike the idea or the image of Gerwig. What is true is that I like her more and more as I see her. Through her youthful face she is able to be both lovable and frustrating in an instance. Ethan Hawke’s earnestness and charisma showcase the desperation of his character and then the subsequent selfishness that fills in where his vulnerabilities emptied out. Julianne Moore is always good but here she’s good while sounding and looking like Yzma from The Emperor's New Groove. Needless to say these three fall into an easy, enviable chemistry that is only improved upon by supporting favorites, Bill Hader and Maya Rudolph.
Maggie’s titular plan is not a single, identifiable one but instead a slew of possible candidates. Maggie’s plans reveal her, at first, respectable desire to think ahead, but reveals a desperate need to control and a childlike concept of goodness and morality that only exists in the world directly in reach of her outstretched arms. In truth it’s a character that I have way more in common with than I’d like to admit. At one point Maggie asks, “Am I so, so capable that I don’t deserve any attention,” which encompasses the neglect of the “doer.” This is a sad fact especially since the selfless doers tend to embody the ranks of mothers and wives, both of which Maggie belongs into and one of which she realizes she doesn’t want to be.
What happens when you’re a doer is you are always thinking of possibilities. Usually riddled with anxiety over any possible thing that could go wrong and ways to improve the life you already have and those of the people you love. This lifestyle diminishes one's own desires in place of servitude and humility. Despite, wanting to care for her husband Maggie realizes she hasn’t been taking care of herself. She is unhappy. She knows to be unhappy and still married to her husband is not what’s best for her so she devises a way where it can be best for both. Her intentions, though ultimately selfish, are shrouded in altruism. She believes that she is doing what’s right. As she says in a moment of stark reality, “I want to live honestly.” Sometimes I don’t think I know what that means and Maggie, as she discovers doesn’t necessarily either. In these moments honesty is more a feeling than a state of mind or even a lifestyle--it’s fluid and changes at every step. Maggie will find it someday and I’m hoping I will too.
★★★★ review by Jane Firehorse on Letterboxd
"maggie's plan" is funny, honest and unexpected. yes, it is a classic remarriage plot, echoing the screwballs of yore; yes, it's set in new york city and its burrows; and yes, it does feature a pickle entrepreneur. but all this silliness and familiarity aside, it's also a post-modern depiction of relationships & families, reflecting the unique, polymorphic arrangements of today.
here gerwig has a role that's slightly different from her previous ones, but which still draws on the types of roles she's played before, while adding more poignancy and maturity. she dons a wonderful, colourful, nerdy wardrobe throughout that plays well off her character's quaker background and the academic setting, even framing her pragmatism in a non-verbal way.
maya rudolph and bill hader are the stable friends of those caught up in the love triangle (gerwig, moore and hawke), and they're both great; as others on letterboxd have mentioned, i would have loved to see their roles expanded, and there was room for that, too, given that the film is quite short.
overall, "maggie's plan" is a blend of farce and emotional realism. miller doesn't poke fun at the characters' feelings, but merely at the situations and circumstances in which they find themselves. for me, it's that mix of pathos and humour that makes this movie work so well.
i also enjoyed the pace, art design, acting, and music too, and i didn't seem to be alone in this: the people in the theatre laughed out loud and appeared to be genuinely amused.
a few footnotes:
1. i did imbibe some alcoholic beverages prior to watching, but hey - that's part of the whole viewing experience, no?
2. i need to watch more of miller's films now, in order to see if i have an overall affinity for her work.
3. we need more female writer-directors!!!
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