Maggie's Plan Movie Starring Ethan Hawke, Julianne Moore, Greta Gerwig Puts Spin On Modern Romcom - CATEGORY Worldwide news: TITLE

Does anyone still play the card game Happy Families? Mr Bun, the baker, paired with Mrs Bun; you then flipped through the cards for the little buns and snap, the family was complete. That structure, says film director Rebecca Miller, has been almost completely dismantled; we can put a family together so many ways now.

"Are you going to have a baby alone as a woman?" she offers as an example. "Are you going to have one with your friend? Or with someone you hope is going to be your life partner – but do you believe anyone is going to be your life partner? For the rest of your life! Is that something we still can believe in?"

Sometimes we do, of course. Miller has been married to Oscar-winning actor Daniel Day Lewis for 20 years. Sometimes we do but change our minds – as Lewis had, marrying Miller without telling the girlfriend who was then living in his flat. So many choices: it's the burden of modern life. It is also the stuff of comedy in Miller's film Maggie's Plan, in which a gaggle of highly articulate people have children, swap partners and then wonder where the hell they went wrong.

"How do we live together? What does love mean? What does romance mean?" Miller continues. "That's perfect food for me for screwball comedy. There are so many possibilities for absurdity."

Greta Gerwig and Ethan Hawke star in <i>Maggie's Plan</I>.
Greta Gerwig and Ethan Hawke star in Maggie's Plan

Maggie's Plan stars indie darling Greta Gerwig, who is her usual klutzy, charming self. Maggie is 30-ish and mildly bohemian; she works at an art school trying to set up graduates with business opportunities and is, in fact, brimming with plans. At first she is thinking about having a baby on her own with the help of a turkey baster and an old university pal, a hipster who has given up pure mathematics to make artisanal pickle, then she meets the somewhat older John (Ethan Hawke, 46), an academic at her college, he who asks to read and commment on the novel she is writing, and things proceed from there. The turkey baster is put on hold.

John is, of course, already married. His wife is a brilliant Danish academic called Georgette (Julianne Moore, 55), who is older again and whose career overshadows his own. Maggie decides she is rescuing him from a gorgon. Three years later they are married with a toddler, but things are not going so well for the couple.

"I think people bring different things out of each other. And you might not like the person you become," Miller says. And so Maggie hatches a new plan: to get her husband and his ex-wife back together. There isn't much real pain here; the film skims gracefully over what results, because romantic comedies don't really do unpleasantness. No one is condemned by the film, either: neither the narcissistic John nor the self-interested Maggie. Gerwig sees Maggie as someone who just wants to live truthfully; it was her idea to make her a Quaker who, when she needs inspiration, slips into a Society of Friends meeting house.

Director Rebecca Miller says love, romance and living together is perfect material for screwball comedy.
Director Rebecca Miller says love, romance and living together is perfect material for screwball comedy. Photo: Jon Pack

"I think she wants to live her life with integrity and I think that for her means different things at different moments," she says. "I think she is actually comfortable with the fact that this is never going to be just one thing forever. That it's going to change."

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