Wednesday, June 8, 2016

MAGGIE'S PLAN: Greta Gerwig scores again in Rebecca Miller's droll rom-com about control

How good, how special is Greta Gerwig? Good enough, it would seem, to be able to do no wrong on screen. Even in underwhelming movies, she shines, and though she usually looks pretty much the same, that face and body hide quite a versatile-in-her-own-way actress.

In Rebecca Miller's newest film about the female (Miller also made the excellent Robin Wright movie The Private Lives of Pippa Lee), Gerwig gets another loaded role that she brings to life with compelling intelligence and ease.

Gerwig's secret, TrustMovies suspects, is that the actress always makes it appear that she has just sort of stumbled into a movie about her very own life. (Yes, she's that real.) In MAGGIE'S PLAN, she plays a young-but-getting-worrisomely-older woman who, given her record of bad romances up till now, decides to inseminate herself with the right male's semen, have her baby, and raise it on her own. Yes: Good luck with that.

Filmmaker Miller, shown at right, has made a very interesting movie that is mainly about control. Obviously, Maggie, via her plan, is intent on controlling her own life, But to do this, she must control to a large extent the lives of the folk around her. Of course, as is usual in life, those adjacent people want to control their own lives, and in fact, they have major control problems, too. Especially adjacent to our Maggie are three other characters: a former schoolmate named Guy (Travis Fimmel), whose sperm she decides on using; a fellow named John (Ethan Hawke), whom she subsequently falls in love with; and Georgette (Julianne Moore, below, sporting a delicious pseudo-Danish accent), John's soon-to-be ex.

All of these characters have their own desires and plans, but our Maggie, in her sweet but determined manner, rides around, above, below and through them. And yet -- especially regarding John (Mr. Hawke is shown below, left) and Georgette -- the way the other characters use their control (or seeming lack of same) proves even more interesting, curling the plot into new twists that tend to resist even the best-laid plans.

The film has been called a modern screwball comedy, but it seem to me something more, less and certainly different from that. Miller, as usual, has her own sense of characters, timing, humor, and all the rest, and as director and adaptor (of a story by Karen Rinaldi) she has grafted her signature sensibility onto this tale. These people are every bit as unsure, if not downright unstable, as any we're likely to meet in modern day movies. They haven't figured out how and when to properly strengthen and/or hold back on that control.

Consequently, some very oddball and pretty funny scenes and moments occur, sometimes involving Maggie's married friends (played by Maya Rudolph and Bill Hader, above) but these may prove too oddball for general audiences, who prefer their rom-coms straight up and with proper closure. By the end of Maggie's Plan, we get but a hint of what might be in the cards (and has actually been there all along).

I found the film a pleasure to watch and listen to, start to finish, and then afterward, to think about a bit. And, yes, it's more for arthouse audiences than mainstream moviegoers. From Sony Pictures Classics, the movie -- running 98 minutes and already playing in theaters across the country -- opens here in South Florida this Friday, June 10, at AMC AVENTURA 24 AVENTURA,   LIVING ROOM THEATERS BOCA RATON,   PALACE 20 BOCA RATON,   SHADOWOOD SQUARE 16 BOCA RATON,   BOYNTON BEACH 14 BOYNTON BEACH,   PARADISE 24 DAVIE,   MOVIES OF DEL RAY DELRAY BEACH,   GATEWAY 4 FT LAUDERDALE,   MOVIES OF LAKE WORTH LAKE WORTH, SOUTH BEACH 18 MIAMI BEACH,  AMC SUNSET PLACE 24 SOUTH MIAMI,   LAST PICTURE SHOW TAMARAC.   Elsewhere? Sure: Just click here, and scroll down to view all the cities and theaters.

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