Maggie’s Plan focuses on the titular character’s struggle (Greta Gerwig) as she hopes to have a child through artificial insemination but at the same time falls for a married man (Ethan Hawke). Describing some of the rest of the plot would give the game away, but just know that the ‘Plan’ of the title isn’t quite what it first seems. Instead it becomes a much more outlandish premise for a film as it shifts gear around the half an hour mark. Despite this originally seemingly inconceivable plot development, Maggie’s Plan does have real heart, and for the most part it is a believable story with real characters. At one point, just as you feel it is about to fall into farce, and it certainly toes the line, Hawke brings proceedings crashing back down to earth with a powerful moment.
It’s not a perfect film by any stretch of the imagination, particularly because the change in plot brings about a jarring shift in tone too. It does however, have three great leads, in Hawke, Gerwig and Hawke’s (ex)wife Julianne Moore. Three superb actors who navigate expertly the rocky terrain at times created by the screenwriter. There are other smaller gripes too, such as the fact that every character seems to need a pseudo-intellectual monologue no matter how out of character it may seem, and a certain major moment does not feel quite as affecting as it should, and yet the leads manage to make this bizarre tale, for the most part, work.
Unfortunately like Maggie herself, the film’s writer doesn’t really know how she wants it all to end and so the film slightly overstays its welcome trying to find a solution. Sadly, the conclusion they decide upon is too rom-com cliche to feel particularly satisfying or fitting for such an unusual and mostly enjoyable movie.