For Reel

Maggie’s Plan (2015)
June 26, 2016, 12:03 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Rebecca Miller
4 Stars
Maggie's PlanIf Maggie’s Plan has the sheen of a contemporary indie comedy—set in New York and starring Greta Gerwig, one could be forgiven for assuming it’s a Noah Baumbach film on first glance—its real roots are in the 1940s comedies of remarriage. While directors like Baumbach and Woody Allen often look to the past in their own films, they rarely indulge the transparent gull to strand their characters on a winter hike as a means of reconciliation. Writer/director Rebecca Miller revels in such contrivances, and her cards are laid flat on the table when a married writer played by Ethan Hawke continuously talks about the screwball fiction novel he’s writing. Hawke—playing an intellectual who is both endlessly charming and probably too smart for his own good—is not so different from his character in the Before trilogy, albeit his lack of romantic finesse often makes him seem more of a buffoon. And, if he’s an easy target to blame in the narrative, his positioning in that role is crucial to what makes the film work, particularly as it moderates the balance between the love interests played by Julianne Moore and Greta Gerwig. Miller struggles to keep up with her performers—the ensemble contribute such engrossing performances that it becomes very noticeable when the screenplay tosses one or more of them aside for a significant amount of time—but she has the great sense to obey their talents as naturalistic performers, never missing the important subtle change of expression or telling gesture.