Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Uber intellectual quirky

What to make of Rebecca Miller’s Maggie’s Plan (2015), currently at The Maple Theater. The film, based on a story by Karen Rinaldi, stars the one and only Greta Gerwig, who I’ll still call the “It Girl” going back to when I probably first discovered her in Whit Stillman’s Damsels in Distress (2011) and then through movies like Woody Allen’s To Rome with Love (2012) and the inestimable lead role in Noah Baumbach’s 2012 Frances Ha. Gerwig is one of the few characters that will draw me to a movie simply because she’s in it. And she doesn’t fail here, trading on her quirky, goofily charming characters each underscored by a can’t-pigeon-hole-her intelligent independence. In this film, she’s cast as a 30-something New York college counselor, organized to a fault and seemingly knowing what she wants in life. Which is, in a word, independence – but, with a child. She doesn’t want a relationship but does want semen, and has an old friend Guy (Travis Fimmel) do the deed (but not with her). Best plans go awry when she bumps into John (Ethan Hawke) a "ficto-critical anthropologist" of the Marxian “commodity fetishism” school (a term that takes me back to college and which I thought long outmoded). He, of course, is a deep intellectual and writing a deep deep book to boot. He’s married to an even deeper - and extremely icy - Columbia professor Georgette (Julianne Moore). The two aren’t really getting along. John and Maggie fall in love, she has her baby, they get married and live happily ever after. For a few years. But it’s apparent John still can’t get over his uber intellectual former wife. Maggie doesn’t have to read tea leaves and her new plan is to break up with John and get Georgette and John back together. O-kaay. The plot is obviously meant to be quirkily humorous and it is, though I’m not sure exactly what the point is. None of the characters are particularly attractive with the big proviso of Maggie herself. (Doesn’t seem Gerwig can fail at anything.) It was disappointing one of my favorite actors Wallace Shawn had the smallest of roles. And, when it comes to Canada, the film stereotypes in a way I haven’t seen since movies from the 1950s: a lodge in remote Quebec with de rigueur animal heads and characters who get lost in a blinding snowstorm.

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