There’s a certain kind of indie film that’s classified as comedy / drama, mainly because they’re hard to define. They’re normally not funny enough to be a comedy, and not serious enough to be a drama, so they must be both, right? Greta Gerwig is no stranger to these films, with her filmography being a list of critically acclaimed films you’ve never heard of. Here Julianne Moore and Ethan Hawke add some dramatic experience, with Bill Hader and Maya Rudolph helping out on the comedy front. I’ll openly admit that this isn’t my kind of film, but this cast certainly doesn’t hurt in trying to change my mind.
Maggie (Greta Gerwig) is at a comfortable place in her life, with one exception – she’s perpetually single. That’s not stopping her however, as she wants to have a baby, and has even found a sperm donor. Her plan is slightly derailed however, because just as she’s planing to artificially inseminate herself, she starts to fall for John (Ethan Hawke). This comes with it’s own problems, as he’s a married man caught up in a difficult marriage.
As I suspected going in, this film isn’t particularly funny or dramatic. There are some humourous scenes, and it goes to some heavy emotional places, but calling it either a comedy or a drama isn’t quite right. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as it’s still highly enjoyable, and fans of this kind of indie film will definitely enjoy everything on display here.
The biggest issue this film has is that it’s very story focused, and it covers more material in 98 minutes than some movies cover in three hours, although not everything feels vital to the plot. Because the film moves at such a swift pace, it does sacrifice some character moments, and while the developments and motivations aren’t completely unbelievable, I was left feeling like a few extra scenes might have helped fill in the gaps. There is something else that this film gets a little bit wrong, and that’s the title.
The above synopsis might make it sound like this is Maggie’s story, but the real main character here is Ethan Hawke’s John. We follow him through most of the film, he has the biggest character arc, and even when he wasn’t on screen, most conversations were about him. The stand out performance however is that given by Julianne Moore, who plays both a tough, jilted lover, and a lonely mother in need of help very convincingly.
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