Indie darling, Gerwig, plays yet another quirky unlucky-in-love character in this comedy drama, directed by Rebecca Miller. I will probably be lambasted for this, but I personally have never seen Gerwig’s appeal. She has basically played the same character (with more or less the same wardrobe) in every film I’ve ever seen her in, and she doesn’t play against type here.
She is joined here with Julianne Moore playing rivals for the affection of Ethan Hawk (John). Gertwig’s control-freak Maggie has made the decision to become a single mother, and has asked a friend, Guy (Fimmel) to be the father. However, in the interim, she becomes close to John, a ficto-critical anthropologist (they do explain what it is in the movie, but I’m really still not sure) who laments his marriage to the brilliant, but cold, Georgette (Moore).
Fast forward three years, and they are married and parents to a toddler. But Maggie’s life isn’t the picture-perfect masterpiece she had envisioned, and she realises she’s fallen out of love with John. Ever desperate to remain in charge of the situation, she plots to reunite him with Georgette, which she thinks is the perfect solution for all involved. What she doesn’t count on is others not being keen on being pawns in her game.
Miller’s father was playwright Arthur Miller, in case you didn’t know, and this does often seem more like a filmed theatre production than a movie. It is very wordy, and there is a lot of exposition, which often feels unnecessary. As I previously mentioned, Gertwig pretty much plays the same character she always does.
However, Moore is standout as the quirky Danish academic Georgette. She brings ticks and nuances to the character that really help you realise the internal struggle that her cool exterior belies. She displays a comic timing that she doesn’t often get to utilise, and despite being painted as one-dimensional by other characters, she has more depth than the rest of them put together.
Hawke is clearly drawing on his character from the Before Sunset trilogy. These movies were equally wordy, but the context of their real time setting made it a bit more necessary. At times you do find yourself wondering why both these intelligent, attractive women would actually fall for him. It’s pretty obvious from the off that his character is directionless and irresponsible.
This is one of the film’s flaws. In order to feel empathy for Maggie or Georgette, we would really need to understand why they would love him in the first place. (I’m sure there are plenty of Ethan Hawke fans who would disagree with me however.)
This is a quirky exploration of the intricate nature of human relationships. It does have some lovely back and forths, and it has been directed quite thoughtfully, even though you can see a couple of “plot twists” coming a mile away. Unfortunately, it drags in parts, and isn’t always as clever or as witty as it thinks it is.
A bit too heavy if you fancy a relaxing night, this is nonetheless an interesting look at the human psyche, and real interactions between people, and it will definitely give you plenty to talk about afterwards – if you haven’t had enough of the talking on-screen that is.
In Cinemas July 8th!