Published Jun 09, 2016Boy meets girl. Boy leaves his wife for girl. Girl falls out of love with boy and tries to give him back to his ex-wife. Maggie's Plan isn't your typical romantic comedy, which is what gives the Rebecca Miller-directed picture its charm. Subverting its genre's usual tropes, the film instead presents an oddball dramedy that serves up an amusing blend of quirky characters and heartfelt storytelling.
Maggie (Greta Gerwig) is a single woman in New York City with a perfectly arranged plan to artificially inseminate herself with the seed of an artisanal pickle maker. Things veer off course, though, when an administrative mishap at the university she works at introduces her to John (Ethan Hawke), a charismatic intellectual and aspiring novelist in the throes of an unhappy marriage to the neurotic, unfeeling mother of his children, Georgette (Julianne Moore).
Maggie and John eventually end up wedded, but after a little of their own marital bliss and a lot of him writing his never-closer-to-being-finished novel, the former wants out and concocts a plan to return her husband to his previous wife. The unlikely pair of Maggie and Georgette team up and set a scheme in motion; naturally, plenty of drama ensues.
This naïve, unrealistic approach to complex human relationships is obviously fraught with flaws; during more than one scene, the viewer may find themselves shouting at Maggie on the unresponsive screen: "He's married! You know this is going to get messy! Why are you trying to reunite a miserable couple?" And yet, it allows Miller to shed interesting light on what it means to be part of a family — or make your own — in the modern world.
Maggie does finally learn some harsh lessons about the dangers of manipulation and the need to sometimes give up control at the hands of inevitability, and that's just the point: things don't always go the way we want them to.