In Maggie’s Plan, the new film written and directed by Rebecca Miller, Greta Gerwig stars as Maggie, a smart young woman who decides that she is ready to have a baby. The only problem is that she doesn’t have a boyfriend, so she attempts to artificially inseminate herself using a donation from an old acquaintance, Guy (Travis Fimmel).
Things are complicated by a chance meeting with John, a “ficto-critical anthropologist” (Ethan Hawke), whose marriage to Georgette (Julianne Moore) is creaking at the seams. Maggie and John quickly begin to enjoy each others’ company, to the point that Maggie’s plan starts to change. We then jump forward a couple of years to see how all the characters are getting on.
The triumph of Miller’s film comes from the meeting of a great cast with a sensitive, clever script that treats them all with remarkable even-handedness. There are no heroes or villains here; Miller is happy to let her characters fumble through their lives without singling any of them out for special treatment. So Maggie is smart and determined, but also controlling and afraid of imbalance; John is a borderline genius but has issues with self-absorption, and so on. Even Georgette, who initially appears to be the comic relief, is formulated by Moore into a rounded and likeable character. There’s also some lovely support from Bill Hader and Maya Rudolph as a bickering but loving couple who Maggie frequently turns to for advice.
In the first act, the film comes across as a little too quirky too quickly, but settles into itself. There are plenty of laughs along the way courtesy of the witty script, and by the end I found myself thoroughly enjoying the company of this cast – at times, its gentle warmth reminded me of a Woody Allen film. Gerwig, in particular, is on great form as Maggie, an d carries the film through its occasionally bitty narrative. The very last shot of the film is perhaps a tad too fairytale, but it’s not much of a bum note and still draws a smile.