Maggie's Plan review – terrifically funny metropolitan comedy

Greta Gerwig, Julianne Moore and Ethan Hawke star in Rebecca Miller’s witty, invigorating film about a woman’s attempt to become pregnant

A romantic comedy worthy of the name isn’t what I expected of Rebecca Miller, whose previous pictures have been strained and unrelaxed exercises, often based on her novels. But Maggie’s Plan is terrifically funny and enjoyable – a metropolitan comedy in the former high style of Woody Allen, directed with elegance and dash by Miller and co-scripted by her with publisher-turned-screenwriter Karen Rinaldi. Greta Gerwig stars in her idiot savant Annie Hall mode as Maggie, a New York art dealer who is trying to become a single mom using sperm donated by an old school contemporary who is now making a fortune marketing pickles. Her plan is to get pregnant within four months, but then she has an encounter with handsome, distrait John (Ethan Hawke), a lecturer in “ficto-critical anthropology”, who is unhappily married to scary intellectual Georgette (Julianne Moore), who has “tenure at Columbia” – the kind of phrase that doesn’t appear much in screenplays these days. Soon, Maggie has a different plan in mind.

It is a witty, sharp comedy that moves along at an invigorating clip, though not at the correct speed for “screwball” or “neo-screwball”, which is how I’ve seen this film described. The disclosures about who is linked to whom are cleverly managed, and there are some funny and sweet-natured thoughts on how fate can mess up our plans. As John puts it: “Unborn children are the real gods.” You might want to make a plan to see this.

Watch the trailer for Maggie’s Plan
  • This article was amended on Monday 1 August 2016. We mistakenly said Greta Gerwig’s character was an anthropology lecturer. In fact, Ethan Hawke’s character holds that job. Her character is an art dealer. This has been corrected.


Peter Bradshaw

The GuardianTramp

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