A a proper rom-com is not what I expected from Rebecca Miller, whose previous pictures have been tense, loose exercises often based on her novels. But Maggie’s Plan is wickedly funny and enjoyable – a metropolitan comedy in the old Woody Allen style, directed with elegance and elan by Miller and co-written by her with editor-turned-screenwriter Karen Rinaldi. Greta Gerwig stars in her scholarly silly Annie Hall mode as Maggie, a New York art dealer who tries to become a single mother using sperm donated by an old-school contemporary who now makes a fortune marketing pickles . Her plan is to get pregnant within four months, but then she meets the handsome and distracted John (Ethan Hawke), a lecturer in “ficto-critical anthropology”, who is unfortunately married to the creepy intellectual Georgette (Julianne Moore), who has a “Columbia term” — the kind of phrase that doesn’t come up much in storylines these days. Soon, Maggie has a different plan in mind.
It’s a witty, sharp comedy that unfolds to an invigorating clip, but not at the right speed for ‘screwball’ or ‘neo-screwball’, which is how I’ve seen this film described. The revelations about who is related to who are cleverly handled, and there are some fun and sweet thoughts about how fate can mess up our plans. As John says, “The unborn are the true gods. You might want to make a plan to see this.
- This article was last modified on Monday, August 1, 2016. We incorrectly said that Greta Gerwig’s character was an anthropology professor. In fact, Ethan Hawke’s character holds that position. His character is an art dealer. This has been corrected.