We gave it a B
Another quirky indie dramedy about Brooklyn Problems? It’s not exactly what the world of cinema is crying out for. But Maggie’s Plan tweaks the well-worn niche of small-batch pickles and self-regard with enough screwball charm to set itself apart, at least nominally, from the rest. Greta Gerwig—almost a genre unto herself at this point—stars as Maggie, a thirtyish grad-school advisor gearing up to have a child on her own rather than wait for the perfect man to come along. She finds her sperm donor in an old college friend (model-turned-Vikings star Travis Fimmel, maximally de-sexed in Crocs and wooly knee socks); he’s, yes, a successful pickle entrepreneur, and he wouldn’t mind a real romance with Maggie, but she’s not biting.
Instead, on the eve of insemination, she falls hard for part-time professor John (Ethan Hawke)—“one of the bad boys of ficto-critical anthropology,” asher friend Felicia (Maya Rudolph) helpfully informs her. He’s married to Georgette (Julianne Moore), an imposing academic superstar with an indeterminate European accent (Danish? German continental?) and the wardrobe of a severely chic yeti. But their relationship, he tells Maggie while somehow simultaneously burying his face in her stomach, is on the rocks. The capable caretaker in her responds to his masculine neediness—he’s also deep in the writing of a perpetually unfinished novel—and soon enough he’s left Georgette to form a new, donor-free family with his much-younger mistress. The Plan of the title evolves from Maggie’s slow disillusionment with her choice, and though most of what follows is in the trailer (why do film studios keep doing that?) it feels better not to spoil it.
Director Rebecca Miller—she also penned the screenplay—unfurls her story leisurely, allowing her characters to flail and flutter and talk-talk-talk like Woody Allen characters transplanted to a slightly scruffier borough. Sometimes that tips too far into silliness (the final scene, especially, works strenuously towards an end-cute); still, its mildly subversive rom-com sensibilities are just sour-sweet enough to pull it off. B