Starring: Ethan Hawke, Julianne Moore, Greta Gerwig
Director: Rebecca Miller
Running Time: 98 mins
Maggie’s Plan is an American film about a young woman with plans to raise a baby on her own, however when she falls into an unexpected relationship with a married man, her plans hit a major obstacle.
I didn’t think all that much of this film, largely due to the fact that it’s a movie that doesn’t really know what it wants to be. While it features decent dialogue and fine performances throughout, it’s torn between being light and heavy right from the very start, something that makes it exceedingly difficult to watch and concentrate on.
Of course, no film has to be entirely easy or entirely heavy-going. In fact, some of the greatest films of all time are those that strike a perfect balance between the two, as they provide both great entertainment and still deep and riveting drama throughout.
In the case of Maggie’s Plan, however, the screenplay isn’t strong enough to make that balance work, with a story that fails to grab your interest, and humour that, while not awful, isn’t good enough to be properly entertaining, and as such it feels like the film is stuck in a very awkward middle ground between being a drama and a comedy.
On the one hand, the film’s story and pace point towards it being a drama. While it’s never meant to be particularly heavy-going, it’s clear that there is a strong dramatic core to the story, and that as such requires your deeper attention and focus to take things a little more seriously. The slow pacing doesn’t really help matters, and makes for a rather frustrating watch all the same.
On the other hand, the score, the cinematography, the humour and the style of the performances all suggest it should be something a whole lot lighter. That, for me, is the biggest problem of the whole film, the fact that its lighter side really outweighs its dramatic side, meaning that the atmosphere sets you up for a film that doesn’t need to be taken immensely seriously.
In reality, however, the story does demand a more serious eye, and as such the entire film is put into a very awkward mess that can’t be got rid of, making for an exceedingly frustrating and ultimately rather dull viewing experience throughout.
As I said, it’s not all bad, and the performances given by the likes of Ethan Hawke and Greta Gerwig are very charming, while Julianne Moore puts in an interestingly quirky (albeit not quite perfect) turn as well, making for some moments of fun.
Overall, however, I felt that Maggie’s Plan was somewhat of a missed opportunity to make a potentially riveting and dramatically engrossing story work, unfortunately undone by a confused atmosphere that never quite manages to give you any real intrigue or entertainment, and that’s why I’m giving it a 6.0.