Magazine article Variety

Maggie's Plan

Magazine article Variety

Maggie's Plan

Article excerpt

FILM REVIEW/TORONTO

Maggie's Plan

DIRECTOR: Rebecca Miller

STARRING: Greta Gerwig, Ethan Hawke, Julianne Moore

After three initial features that were uneven but shared a rather literary kind of seriousness, Rebecca Miller moved toward romantic comedy with 2009's "The Private Lives of Pippa Lee." Her new "Maggie's Plan" inhabits that terrain even more assertively, albeit retaining enough offbeat qualities to avoid genre conventionality. This pleasing triangle embroils Greta Gerwig, Ethan Hawke and Julianne Moore in two overlapping relationships involving three children over three-plus years. Premiered at Toronto without a U.S. distribution deal yet in place, it nonetheless looks likely to log a B.O. personal best for the writerhelmer, with modest but solid niche prospects in all formats.

Miller's screenplay (based on an unpublished novel by editor-publisher Karen Rinaldi) wastes no time in establishing the setup, as fully blurted out by Maggie (Gerwig) in the first lines of dialogue. Speaking to old friend Tony (Bill Hader), who's already got a spouse, Felicia (Maya Rudolph), and child, she bemoans her inability to sustain any romantic relationship longer than six months. Having decided that's unlikely to change, but ready for motherhood right now, she's decided on a plan: imminent pregnancy via sperm donation culled from another college pal like Bill. The lucky man chosen is Guy (TYavis Fimmel), a mathematics major turned "pickle entrepreneur," though she politely rebuffs his offer to do it the old-fashioned way rather than via sterilized jar and turkey baster.

This meticulously plotted transaction nonetheless runs up against unpredictable fate; it happens just as Maggie succumbs to a powerful attraction to John (Ethan Hawke), a new adjunct professor at the New College, where she also works. She's a sort of career adviser to art and design students; he teaches anthropology, but is working on a novel, and agonizing over his marriage to more successful colleague Georgette (Moore), a Dane who's great in the "imposing" sense. With Moore's hair tilted skyward in a rigid bun, and an accent more grimly Teutonic than Danish, Georgette is an overbearing personality - at least, John can bear it no more, despite their two children. …

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