M FILM – A rom-com with brains

Writer-director Rebecca Miller has a shot at some mainstream popularity with Maggie’s Plan

Probably best-known for The Ballad of Jack and Rose, indie writer-director Rebecca Miller has a shot at some mainstream popularity with Maggie’s Plan, a thoughtful romantic comedy that’s like a feminist update of vintage Woody Allen. The film stars Greta Gerwig (Frances Ha) as Maggie, a 30ish New Yorker who’s on the hunt for a no-obligation sperm donor because she’s decided to be a single mom (never having had a boyfriend for longer than six months). Unexpectedly she gets interested in John (Ethan Hawke), a famous anthropologist with dreams of becoming a novelist. Described as “a real panty melter” by a faculty colleague, the raffishly charming John is languishing in a troubled marriage: his wife, a fiercely intelligent fellow academic named Georgette (Julianne Moore), is a prickly brainiac who seems to have ice in her veins. And so it is that sweet, kindly Maggie has only read the first few chapters of John’s novel-in-embryo by the time the two fall madly in love.

Jump ahead three years and Maggie and John have a beautiful two-year-old daughter named Lily. They also have a deeply troubled relationship, as John has devolved into a childish narcissist. He also talks on the phone with Georgette several times a day, which gives Maggie the idea that she’d be better off returning John to his ex-wife rather than raising Lily in what has become a dead marriage. And so Maggie, who is a bit of a hapless control freak, hatches an elaborate reconciliation plan with the help of Georgette and Maggie’s two best friends (well played by SNL grads Maya Rudolph and Bill Hader). But fate has a plan of its own, and this hip and witty comedy proves to have a few genre-subverting tricks up its sleeve before the end credits roll.

Essentially, Plan is a serious-minded screwball comedy. The laughs tend to stem from wry insights into the ironies of modern life rather than fast-paced slapstick shenanigans. And the well-drawn characters have genuine depth and experience moments of drama and sadness that you just don’t find in the standard Hollywood rom-com. Give lots of credit to writer-director Miller – as the daughter of famed dramatist Arthur Miller she clearly has inherited impressive writerly genes.

But as good as this literate screenplay is at analyzing the nature of love and marriage, it’s brought fully to life by several impressive performances. Indeed, the movie could make a star of Gerwig, whose offbeat mixture of sweetness, unworldly daftness, and a hint of physical awkwardness makes her rather adorable.

Maggie’s Plan *** 1/2

Stars Greta Gerwig, Ethan Hawke, Julianne Moore

Directed by Rebecca Miller

COMING SOON:

Star Trek Beyond

Reboot expert J.J. Abrams surrenders the helm to Justin Lin (of Fast and Furious fame) for a familiar-sounding tale about Kirk and Spock and the rest of the Enterprise crew facing an alien threat on a hostile planet.

The Infiltrator

Celebrated actor Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad) plays a good guy in this true tale of a fearless U.S. customs agent who went deep undercover in an attempt to take down notorious drug lord Pablo Escobar.

Ghostbusters

The goofily classic sci-fi comedy from 32 years ago gets a gender-savvy reboot as some very funny females – Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, and Leslie Jones – find out what it’s like to get slimed by ghostly ectoplasm.

Jason Bourne

Matt Damon reunites with savvy director Paul Greengrass for a bonus round of what was supposed to be a trilogy. Expect actions and thrills galore as this conflicted assassin-on-the-run desperately tries to untangle some scary geopolitical intrigue.

The Legend of Tarzan

Tarzan the ape man – he of the rippling muscles, throaty yodel, and jaunty loincloth – finds himself in a pulse-pounding adventure set in the Congo, where he becomes the unwitting pawn of an evil military mastermind (Christoph Waltz).

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Scaredy Cats television series has turned Empress Avenue in Fernwood into a Halloween themed neighbourhood. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)
PHOTOS: Trick or treat! Halloween comes to Fernwood in January

New television series Scaredy Cats filming in Victoria

Cindy Foggit plays the lead role of Eliza in Passion and Performance’s film production Eliza: An Adaption of a Christmas Carol. (Courtesy of Rachel Paish)
Victoria adult dance studio releases modern adaption of A Christmas Carol

Instead of usual stage performance, dance studio turns to film

Braden Holtby’s new mask designed in collaboration with Luke Marston and David Gunnarsson. (Mike Wavrecan photo)
Vancouver Island Coast Salish artist unveils new mask for Canucks goalie

Braden Holtby’s new mask features artwork by Luke Marston inspired by the legend of the seawolf

Canadian singer-songwriter-actor Joëlle Rabu will join her son, Nico Rhoades, for a livestream performance courtesy the Tidemark Theatre Jan. 29. Photo submitted
Mother/son powerhouses Joelle Rabu and Nico Rhodes join forces for Island livestream

Campbell River’s Tidemark Theatre hosts online music revue

Dr. John Hooper is the new conductor of Island Voices. Photo supplied
Island Voices welcomes new conductor

Dr. John Hooper to lead mid-Island based choir

Jorie Benjamin does a modern dance performance to ‘La Vie en rose’ by Édith Piaf, Louis Gugliemi and Marguerite Monnot, choreographed by Elise Sampson during the Cowichan Music Festival’s Highlights Concert at the Cowichan Performing Arts Centre on March 1, 2020. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Cowichan Music Festival cancelled for 2021

The festival had already been limited to solo performances only for 2021

<em>Chinook Salmon: Breaking Through</em> by B.C.’s Mark Hobson was selected among 13 entries as the winner of the Pacific Salmon Foundation’s Salmon Stamp Competition.
Stained-glass lighting casts a win to B.C. salmon artist

Painting of chinook is Mark Hobson’s third win in annual contest

Apollonian means “serene, calm, or well-balanced; poised & disciplined”. The natural photo art for the album includes Vancouver Island mountains, rivers and beaches. Scenes from the Cowichan River, Witchcraft Lake, Pipers Lagoon, Wall Beach and other popular Island recreation destinations accentuate the album. (RICHIErichieRichie Music Publishing photo)
Serenity Now! Richie Valley debuts third LP dubbed Apollonian

Apollonian means “serene, calm, or well-balanced; poised & disciplined”

Victoria artist Noah Layne is conducting online workshops on portrait drawing as part of the Metchosin ArtPod’s About Face portrait show. (Photo courtesy of Noah Layne)
Metchosin Art Pod doing an about-face

Renowned artist Noah Layne hosting online classes in portrait drawing

This weekend Amy Pye is holding a virtual book launch for her latest children’s book, <em>Bruce the Silly Goose</em>. (Photo courtesy Amy Pye)
Victoria writer and illustrator pens children’s book about COVID-19 safety

Amy Pye to hold online book launch for ‘Bruce the Silly Goose’

The pantomime ‘Snow White and the 5 Dwarfs’ has been cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions. (Submitted)
Pantomime cancelled in Cowichan due to COVID restrictions

A partnership of the Cowichan Musical Society, the Shawnigan Players, and the Mercury Players.

Most Read