As someone who loves to plan, it is wonderfully cathartic seeing a character’s thoughtful plans go awry in writer/director Rebecca Miller’s offbeat and charming new film, “Maggie’s Plan.” Starring Greta Gerwig, Ethan Hawke, Julianne Moore, Bill Hader, Maya Rudolph, and Travis Fimmel, “Maggie’s Plan” examines modern love and coupling in New York City with surprising and often unplanned results. With a twisty nod to the comedies of remarriage of the 1930’s screwball era, Miller updates these familiar tropes by utilizing the romantic heroine and jilted wife with deliriously droll sisterhood results.

A Solid Plan

The film opens on Maggie (Gerwig) who announces her big plan to her best friend, and former college boyfriend Tony (Hader). Maggie, a student advisor at The New School, decides that she’s no longer waiting for the perfect man; she plans to have a child via artificial insemination. Offering to be her donor is their brilliant, former college mathematician classmate, Guy (Fimmel), who is now an artisanal pickle entrepreneur.

But into Maggie’s workplace walks anthropologist professor, John Harding (Hawke). Married to a superstar academia wife named Georgette (Moore), Harding is a hotshot professor who dreams of being a novelist. Maggie is someone who gives him fantastic notes. Their passion for writing and each other grows and it’s not long before coupling plans shift.

But does passion trump carefully made plans? Does the universe conspire against lovers? Will our thoughtful, yet goofball academics figure out life, love, marriage and babies?

Rebecca Miller’s first foray into comedy

Known for her award-winning, dramatic films (“Angela,” “The Ballad of Jack and Rose,”) as well as her acclaimed novels, Miller was looking to direct something lighter.

“I always had such a great feeling inside when people would laugh in screenings of my films,” Miller states in her film’s press notes. She continues, “I think the older I get, the more life I see, the more I feel the need for comedy.” Miller wrote the script adaptation from friend’s Karen Rinaldi’s unfinished novel.

Ethan Hawke finally works with a female director

Ethan Hawke has worked in the industry for decades in films like “Boyhood,” “Training Day,” and the trilogy “Before Sunrise,” Before Sunset,” and “Before Midnight.” But he hadn’t acted in a comedy since “Reality Bites.” So it was a terrific break to work in a comedy and for the first time with a female director. As he honestly exclaims in the press notes, “This is embarrassing, but I’ve been professionally acting for over 30 years, and I’ve never been directed by a woman. And I find that really bizarre. Rebecca always struck me as a special person, and I’ve really enjoyed working with her.”

The collaboration between director and talented cast pays off.

Gerwig is perfect as the joyful, “trying to do the right thing” planner. Hawke plays the passionate, somewhat irresponsible novelist exquisitely, while Moore is delightful as an icy Danish academic, who is a disaster in the snow and slowly starts to melt and show a few vulnerabilities. Supporting cast members, Hader, Rudolph, and Fimmel are equally captivating.

For those looking for non-tentpole summer fare, “Maggie’s Plan” is a charmingly droll indie rom-com sure to satisfy.

“Maggie’s Plan” is 98 minutes and Rated R and opens in limited release in Los Angeles and New York on May 20.

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