September Film Review | Maggie’s Plan
This month Liz Pullin from Visit Herefordshire reviews Maggie’s Plan (15) which was screened here on Friday 9 & Saturday 10 September. Please be aware that this review contains spoilers.
“Maggie’s Plan, at a basic level, explores women and motherhood. The title character Maggie (Greta Gerwig) has decided that it is the right time in her life to become a mother, whether she is in a relationship or not. A slightly awkward character, Maggie sees herself as romantically doomed, and in a society which values instant gratification as a first resort, she has found a way to have a child with a sperm donor named Guy, who sells pickles.
At the other end of the spectrum is Georgette (Julianne Moore). A mother with two children she is very career focussed, balancing work with looking after her children, while her husband John (Ethan Hawke) has put his own dreams on hold to support her. Their set up is classic – the parents have forgotten to work on their relationship and their lives revolve around their children and their careers.
John and Maggie meet by chance at the university they both work at; she agrees to read the novel he is writing and they strike up a friendship. In Maggie, John finds someone who is interested in him and his dreams. They spend more and more time together, culminating in a humorous scene where John is outside Maggie’s apartment ringing the buzzer while she is in the bath inseminating herself.
We fast-forward three years to John and Maggie living together with their daughter Lily. The bare walls are painted a cool blue, and there are a lot of wide open spaces; a complete juxtaposition to the cosy flat Maggie had at the start of the film with walls lined with books. The widening gap which is now between them is well represented in their living space. John shuts himself away, still writing his novel, while Maggie tends to Lily, and John’s other two children when Georgette works away. Being a mother is what she’s always wanted, being a step-mother to John’s older children at the expense of her own career is not what she expected. John has had one marriage which fell into a rut of routine, and the same is happening with Maggie.
Maggie says from the start of the film that she is not sure she can stay in love with anyone for longer than 6 months, or expect anyone to stay in love with her for longer than that – is this her excuse for her marriage not working, or does it highlight that we have become a disposable society? After a tense meeting with Georgette the women scheme to get John and Georgette back together. An academic conference in Canada conveniently strands John and Georgette in a snow storm which allows them to rekindle their love. The film ends with the adults co-existing with their children in a city where the only season is winter.
Not your usual love story, Maggie’s Plan explores modern day women and families. Gerwig’s kooky character is reminiscent of her role in Frances Ha, a role that doesn’t follow mainstream lines. Moore does a cracking Danish accent, even when singing, and pulls of an icy European persona, while Hawke is as frustrating for the viewer as he is for his wives as the tortured writer. A brilliant supporting cast, Bill Hader and Maya Rudolph bring comedy value to this modern day dysfunctional love story, which makes us questions – can we have it all and make it work?”
Review by Liz Pullin, Visit Herefordshire
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