Published Jun 09, 2016The plot to Rebecca Miller's latest film Maggie's Plan reads rather ridiculous on paper. It tells the story of Maggie (Greta Gerwig), who falls for John (Ethan Hawke), who leaves his wife Georgette (Julianne Moore) for her — only for Maggie to fall out of love with John and concoct a mischievous plan to reunite him with Georgette. The absurdity is amplified by the title character's hopeless naiveté and Moore's character's inflated eccentricities, but despite the wacky synopsis and ensemble cast, the film manages to retain both subtle and relatable qualities.
That sense of familiarity is no mistake on the part of Miller. "I'm just reflecting reality," she tells Exclaim! And while she acknowledges that a character like Maggie is certainly flawed, and that Georgette is rather "extreme," they're not that far off the mark from people that Miller has actually encountered. It's not mean-spirited, though, as Miller explains she relates to each character. "I feel like you have more license to make fun of people if you're also making fun of yourself," she admits.
"I'm interested in creating complicated, dynamic female characters," she continues. "But the world is full of complicated, dynamic females. So I'm just reflecting that."
Miller's observations about what it means to be a modern family also get reflected in the film. "It was something I was hearing a lot about, the many comical vicissitudes of marriage and un-marriage and re-marriage and how to have a baby and all the ways young women can have children and have lives and what marriage means now," she says. "It just felt very contemporary, like our lives now. A way of saying how complicated love and romance is right now, in a light way."
But despite the filmmaker's attention to detail when it comes to reflecting the realities of everyday life, Maggie's Plan certainly doesn't translate into the boring onscreen tropes that typically permeate romantic comedies.
For inspiration, Miller drew on "less broad," more complex oldies like A Philadelphia Story, His Girl Friday and It Happened One Night. "I was interested in the sense of the screwball plot where you think you know where you're going — and you might ultimately guess where you're going — but how you get there is continually surprising," she explains. "I was interested in interrupting or challenging the form, but still keeping to that idea that all's well's that ends well."
Maggie's Plan opens on June 10 in Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal.