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Film review: Maggie’s Plan - quirky comedy-of-manners is Woody Allen lite

Greta Gerwig plays student who falls for Ethan Hawke’s professor character, only to decide later that he and wife he left belong together. The film is uneven, though, and the casting doesn’t come off

PUBLISHED : Monday, 17 October, 2016, 5:28pm
UPDATED : Monday, 17 October, 2016, 5:28pm

3/5 stars

The plan in question is one of remarriage and reunion. The twist is that it comes from the woman who came between a husband and wife and now feels that they need to be back together. Rebecca Miller’s New York-set comedy-of-manners is far removed from the traumas of her earlier works, like The Private Lives of Pippa Lee and The Ballad of Jack and Rose. But while it’s a lighter and more quicksilver affair, Maggie’s Plan is still a film about navigating modern world pitfalls.

Greta Gerwig plays Maggie, a student who falls for a professor named John Harding (Ethan Hawke) – an anthropologist” who is married to fellow academic Georgette (Julianne Moore). When Harding decides to dump his wife, take up with Maggie and start a family, it dovetails perfectly with Maggie’s notion that she was going to get pregnant with or without a partner. But fast-forward a couple of years, and all is not well in Maggie’s world – which is when she starts hatching her plan.

Self-consciously quirky, the film’s rhythm is rather undulating, liable to irritate as many as it pleases. Moore’s eccentric performance as the Danish Georgette (with a bizarre Germanic accent) just feels out of step, while Gerwig feels like lazy hipster casting as the introspective Maggie. There are some fine moments of observational comedy with Bill Hader and Maya Rudolph, as Maggie’s ex and his wife, but Miller doesn’t quite do enough to keep audiences entranced. In the end, it’s Woody Allen lite.

Maggie’s Plan opens on October 20

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