Maggie doesn’t want a child the usual way.
After many relationship setbacks, this disillusioned staid woman in her thirties takes the last-resort option of insemination as a personal choice. A guy weirdly named Guy, played by Travis Fimmel, makes a final offer of traditional conception before weaving in and out of her bathroom with a filled blue cup. Everything was planned to the minute except for John. When he comes along, Maggie’s plan falls flat after falling for the sexy writer, anthropologist and unhappily married man that he is. Regular advice on John’s novel turns into a friendship that later turns into an affair that soon enough ends up throwing the young lovers into the daily life of parenthood.
Maggie’s plan is a screwball comedy on challenging fate starring Greta Gerwig (Mistress America), Ethan Hawke (Boyhood) and Julianne Moore (Still Alice). Directed by screenwriter and author Rebecca Miller (Personal Velocity: Three portraits, The private lives of Pippa Lee) and based on the original idea of Karen Rinaldi, the ludicrous and romantic comedy has been introduced at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2015. Biller Hader and Maya Rudolph as the goofy best friends – Tony and Felicia – complete this heterogeneous cast in terms of cinematic genre.
Miller’s fifth full-length feature film deals with essential and current yet timeless issues without actually getting to the core of her own exploration. Maggie’s plan skims over the contemporary definitions of the couple, parenthood, destiny and the correlation between identity and all of those previous elements without really proving its point. At least The Back-up plan with Jennifer Lopez had the merit of being a good combination of the ingredients of a funny comedy.
Does what you do define who you are, or does who you are define what you do?
John’s character, a moral-free self-absorbed novelist in the making played by Ethan Hawke, investigates on his fear of losing love if he doesn’t succeed yet without bringing any type of consistency to the table. A not-so-convincing interpretation of the so-called tortured guy who switches from one woman to another at every turn and obstacle. The statement, to which his ex-wife’s answer is about loving someone no matter who they are, becomes laughable as soon as we know that Georgette didn’t show an interest in John’s novel up until their divorce.
“I would rather see my daughter grow up without a dad than inside a dead marriage.”
© Maggie’s plan – still
Miller’s perception of a relationship fits the botanical allegory, stating in an interview with the Guardian that in each couple one is the gardener and the other the rose. As cheesy and simplistic as it sounds, any relationship’s most required skills are maintenance and work, obviously. John ended any of that before he even began committing to his relationship with Maggie, emphasizing the idea that no shitty situation whatsoever could allow someone to build a family and properly fall in love. And keep up at it.
Sensible without being sensitive, Maggie announces her will to live honestly after having an affair with a married man and leaving communication completely out of the way when it comes to the couple’s marital breakdown. That’s when the main character turns out to be the most boring one.
The only not-so-enriching moral of the story would be that this time in your life when you’re a mess is definitely not a decent forecast of a long-term, healthy and happy relationship. The big fat deception would be that no one here ever fight for love with a big L or, for that matter, the renewal of the comedy genre.
Maggie’s Plan, Rebecca Miller – June 10, 2016