Tons of history and your mom tell you falling for a married man is a chancy way to find happiness and a father for your baby. In this romantic comedy by writer-director Rebecca Miller (trailer), the unlikely happens and aspiring novelist John Harding (played by Ethan Hawke) actually divorces his self-absorbed, chilly wife Georgette (Julianne Moore) and marries the girl. They have a lovely baby. A couple of years on, though, the marriage is just not working.
That’s when Maggie (Greta Gerwig) develops her plan. She’ll try to get John and Georgette back together.
There are some nice moments and some funny moments, though the comedy is never quite as screwball as it might have been. As a tale of female manipulation, Maggie’s efforts don’t reach the delicious complexity of Lady Susan Vernon in Love & Friendship, also in theaters now. Lady Susan plows ahead like an ocean liner, let the devil take the hindmost, and that creates a more comic effect than the rather more realistic angsty New Yorkers in Maggie’s web.
Bill Hader and Maya Rudolph are a prickly married couple, long-time friends of Maggie, stuck to each other like burrs. Mina Sundwall is John And Georgette’s teenage daughter, a perfect adolescent cynic.
Gerwig gives an engaging performance, Hawke is always interesting, and Julianne Moore shines as the ambitious academic—with a Danish accent, no less. There’s a real New York feel to the film, too. Says Christy Lemire in RogerEbert.com, director Miller “truly gets the city’s rhythms and idiosyncracies, and her dialogue frequently sparkles.”
Rotten Tomatoes critics’ rating: 84%; audiences 59%.