Will Greta Gerwig have to do a quirky solo dance scene in every movie she's in? Because that's quickly becoming the case. In writer/director Rebecca Miller's witty rom-com Maggie's Plan, Gerwig sways and charms endlessly but doesn't break the mold.
Maggie (Gerwig) wants a baby, using sperm from Guy (Travis Fimmel), but instead falls in love with a married, attention-hungry professor, John (Ethan Hawke). His Danish wife, Georgette (Julianne Moore), is delightfully chilly, the opposite of Maggie's simple, down-home effervescence, making for some awkward, comic moments when the two eventually meet -- and plot to get John back together with Georgette.
Miller allows these characters to make realistic mistakes and come to inevitable conclusions -- John's gonna realize he actually wants to be with the smart woman he left, and Maggie's gonna discover she doesn't like stroking the ego of a selfish wife-jumper — before adding more outlandish plot twists. In typical rom-com fashion, however, Guy, the pickle entrepreneur with a poet's heart, is clearly Maggie's match. Much can be said about Moore's mastery of a Danish accent and an icy stare, and Fimmel portrays this close-talking, sensitive man so well that it's difficult to see any trappings of his murderous Vikings character underneath his hippie toque. It'd be nice if Gerwig were allowed to do something similar, breaking out of her adorably inept almost-a-grownup pigeonhole.
Maggie's Plan is a fun light comedy with memorable characters, from a writer/director who lives up to her lineage (Arthur Miller's her dad), but it relies heavily on Gerwig's predictable charm and sometimes seems more Woody Allen than Rebecca Miller. Throughout, the dialogue reminds that Miller is capable of more, especially some sharper turns in plot, where consequences are felt.