Maggie (Greta Gerwig) is a young academic in New York City who is feeling her body clock ticking when it comes to having kids, but the problem is she has never been able to stay in a romantic relationship with a man for more than six months, and that is going to make it tricky to build a basis for making a baby. Therefore she takes a modern option: artificial insemination, which will make her a single mother free to bring up her child the way she wants without any complications from a partner, and she has an idea of who she would like to ask to be the father of this offspring: Guy (Travis Fimmel), even though one of her married friends, Tony (Bill Hader), warns her that this is not the great idea she thinks it is...
Maggie's Plan was greeted with some welcome reactions from the sort of people it satirised, but one the other hand most seemed to think it was rich white privilege: the movie, and therefore a relationship comedy in the mould of classic Woody Allen was not going to appeal to a wide range of audiences. That said, it was curious that a film which essentially made mountains of fun of a particular strata of a particular region's social circle would be rejected by those who were so ready to see them sent up so mercilessly, maybe it was down to writer and director Rebecca Miller's tone being indistinguishable from a more sincere approach to her characters and the issues they created for themselves.
Yet there was a note of sympathy struck fairly often, so it's not as if Miller detested those characters she concocted, she was invested in them and allowed the viewer to take or leave them as they pleased, it's just that quite a lot of this was allowing them to exacerbate the flaw in their personalities for comic effect. If you could not see the humanity in them, then no wonder they drove so many up the wall, and Gerwig was at her most Greta Gerwig-esque, so much so that she threatened to turn into a caricature of herself, or at least the persona she was best known for portraying on the screen with all those quirks and lack of self-awareness which marked her out as an actress you either got on with or rejected.
If you embraced those elements, you would find, yes, a performance Gerwig could probably give in her sleep, but she was hired for these things because she was effective in them, and if you enjoyed the film there was a lot to like about her Maggie, whose plan goes awry until she finally realises she had a better one on standby all along, albeit she twigs this is the case at the very last shot of the movie. She has rejected the idea of romantic love, not because she is cold and heartless, but because she has never found it working out for her; we can tell she is a nice enough girl, but she may be doing herself down, coupled with a knack for making the wrong choices which was not exclusive to people in her class or situation. Would she be better inviting mathematician turned pickle bottler (yes, really) Guy to settle down with her? She won't know, because she is too intent on inseminating herself with his sperm.
Provided by him over at her apartment in one instance of the lampooning Miller preferred to depict this lot with as they needlessly complicated and overthought their lives at every turn. One of those complications for Maggie is intellectual and writer John Harding (Ethan Hawke) who she falls for despite him being married to fellow intellectual and writer Georgette (Julianne Moore doing a Scandinavian accent that sounds suspiciously German) who he has had two kids with. But the heart wants what it wants, and John's heart is set on Maggie, so we jump forward a couple of years after they first realise they are in love and the rest of the film plays out from there. The thing is, Maggie is indeed very good with children, but that's because she acts like their friends rather than, say, a parent or authority figure, and she really needs someone with that understanding rather than John's self-absorption that only Georgette truly has a grasp of. Maya Rudolph also showed up as Tony's wife, rounding out a neat ensemble who were perhaps a shade too adept at conveying their roles' essential self-centred quality, but there were some good laughs and a little insight for the interested. Music by Michael Rohatyn.