Maggie’s Plan is a 2015 American Indie film written and directed by Rebecca Miller, starring Greta Gerwig (Maggie), Ethan Hawke (John), and Julianne Moore (Georgette); each portray a mess of a character who must grow over the course of the film. Some familiar faces to the mainstream include Saturday Night Live stars Bill Hader and Maya Rudolph, as Maggie’s best friend, Tony, and his wife, Felicia.
Maggie is an endearing arts liaison who desperately wants a baby. She wants motherhood to be her own choice—so much so she’s prepared to do it alone. By the time she tells Tony of her plan, she has already organised a donor, the more-than-willing Guy (The Pickle Guy), Travis Fimmel. Even as Tony tries to convince her that the right guy is just around the corner, Maggie becomes enamoured with her co-worker.
It all begins with a simple question: ‘will you read the first chapter?’ Despite Maggie sticking with her original plan to inseminate herself, things get complicated when John chooses that same night to leave his wife and declare his love for Maggie, and before long they’re married.
The film then takes a bit of a time leap, roughly two or three years, where we come back to Maggie’s story as the mother to three children (two step-children), balancing a career and playing bread-winner while her husband is still working on his novel. Understandably it is all becoming too much for Maggie to handle and a well placed comment from Felicia kindles in her a brilliant idea: why not give him back to his ex-wife? But how can she get the icy Georgette to recognise the brilliance of her plan when the two of them have never even met?
With a deliberately convoluted plot the film is designed to demonstrate the messiness of life. Greta Gerwig portrays Maggie’s character well, her frustration at John obvious and easy to sympathise with. Her character was a strong and capable woman who obviously didn’t want to wait around for a man to begin her life as a mother. Her need for control asserts itself very early in the piece when she is talking to Guy, the Pickle Guy, about his donation, and says, ‘So how much involvement would you like with the child? I was thinking none, but we can negotiate’.
Her character is one that relishes control, which makes juggling three children and a full time job manageable. Georgette is also a strong and capable woman, and together she and Maggie reverse the traditional patriarchal role, working at first against one another and then together to help John decide what it is he really needs.
Overall this was quite a funny film. It had its ups and downs but overall a delight. It was a film about people who didn’t know what they wanted from each other, and their lives. The audience was invited along on a journey through Maggie’s world to laugh with her, and cringe at her mistakes.
Reviewed by Kayla Gaskell.
Maggie’s Plan is still screening at Palace Nova cinemas, Adelaide.