By: Donna Freydkin
"Maggie's Plan," which premiered in Toronto and has been earning buzz ever since, stars Greta Gerwig as a woman on a mission.
Her goal: motherhood. SIngle, preferably, made possible by a pickle guy (Travis Fimmel) willing to donate to the cause. Until she meets a married writer (Ethan Hawke) who's wed (unhappily) to a Danish Columbia University professor (Julianne Moore) with a penchant for clogs and a serious superiority complex. Now, think spouse swap, in this modern comedy of manners written and directed by Rebecca Miller.
The movie has a warm, familial vibe, which was no accident. "There were already some relationships in place. Julianne and I already knew each other very well. I felt like I knew Greta – it was a soul-mate situation. I felt very close to her," says Miller. "Ethan, I had met."
They are a key part of New York's drama community.
"I felt very connected to you," says Hawke to Miller. "I took a keen interest in you when you were writing your fiction. I felt like we were growing up across the room. It's like Julianne – we hadn't worked together, but I felt like we did. We lived across the street from each other. I've been really close with Julianne's husband Bart (Freundlich) since I was 21. He taught me to play basketball. I always felt connected to Julie as a human being."
In the film, Fimmel plays the initial sperm donor, and he came to be in the film courtesy of Daniel Day-Lewis. Read on. "Travis shoots 'Vikings' right down the road from where we live in Ireland," says Miller. "I'm a crazed 'Vikings' fan. He's great in it. My husband told me that he found my pickle man. We met in this pub on a rainy day."
All laughter aside, the film poignantly explores what it means to be a family, and how it truly does take a village of disparate adults to raise children. Plus, it spotlights the many different ways women and men can become parents these days. "It felt like it was in the air," says Miller. "You could do it as a play – somebody else could do it as a play."
Adds Hawke: "It feels of the moment."
For Oscar winner Moore, the key to playing the daunting Georgette lay in exploring her more approachable, comedic side, and why she's so intimidating. "One of the things I liked about her is that she's described as being a monster. It's always from someone else's point of view. And when Maggie finally meets her, she realizes she's not that bad at all," says Moore.
In fact, she's quite alluring. "Maggie gets a girl-crush on Georgette. And why not," says Gerwig.
"I wear clogs well, don't I?" says Moore.
Women run the show in the film, and the guys seem a tad -- lost. Hawke's character spends years writing a book that doesn't gel. Gerwig's Maggie, meanwhile, figures out what she wants and goes after it. That's by design.
"I just loved Maggie. It really did feel like an ensemble," says Gerwig. "Rebecca made me feel like I needed to serve Maggie and the rest would fall into place. You just play every scene as it goes. There's a softness to Maggie but that's only the wrapping. She's highly capable and knows what she wants."
Adds Miller: "Women are perhaps naturally a little more decisive. They're more about getting things done, perhaps."