Movie Review – ‘Maggie’s Plan’

“Maggie’s Plan” is really about neither romance nor comedy. It’s about the complicated life we live in and our desires. The film spotlights how one’s decisions has consequences and impacts others’ lives–particularly children.

Patrick King, REEL BRIEF

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Promoted and teased as a contemporary romantic comedy, “Maggie’s Plan” disintegrates into a complicated relationship triangle with children caught in the middle of three self-absorbed parents. Looking deeper, we find today’s “selfie” phenomenon morphing beyond the mere instant gratification from photographs into the more surreal, high-stakes role of single parenthood by-choice. This film, perhaps accidentally, captures a generation that wants it all—which in and of itself isn’t necessary bad or harmful.  Until one either finds something else better or decides having it “all” was a mistake. In the case of the latter, the iGen wants a do-over.

Maggie, exceptionally portrayed by a talented and vastly underrated Greta Gerwig, lacks a green thumb at growing relationships beyond the six-month point. Giving up on finding Mr. Right, Maggie settles for a sperm donation to achieve her goal of single motherhood, just as a disgruntled, older married man (Ethan Hawke) enters her heart and academia world on a New York campus.

After getting married and having a daughter of their own together, Maggie finds herself juggling a blended family solo, minus any parental teamwork from her self-centered boy toy, John (Hawke). Overwhelmed and regretful, Maggie checks for an expiration date on returning John to his ex-wife and successful Danish author, Georgette (played by Academy Award winner Julianne Moore). From here, Maggie hatches a “plan” to move all of the film’s chess pieces back to their original starting position for a new game.

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First-time independent director Rebecca Miller wrote this screenplay based upon Karen Rinaldi’s original story. Both women deserve serious credit for highlighting several difficult and rampant relationship hurdles straightforwardly. Boldly, “Maggie’s Plan” never sidesteps the heavy topics of affairs, divorce, infidelity or single-parenthood. To do otherwise would water down and weaken the movie’s best attribute—the stark and often painful realism found in its script and storyline.

“Maggie’s Plan” is really about neither romance nor comedy. It’s about the complicated life we live in and our desires. The film spotlights how one’s decisions has consequences and impacts others’ lives–particularly children. This plot revolves around the self-gratification world that permeates social media and our society today. Stellar performances throughout bring attention to absent parenting, self-absorbed novelists and loveless relationships. Notwithstanding a few funny lines, “Maggie’s Plan” delivers a dramatic, and troublesome, look inside contemporary relationships.

Grade: C

“Maggie’s Plan” is rated R for language and brief sexuality.  Its running time is 1 hour and 38 minutes.

© 2016, Patrick. All rights reserved.



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