Filmmaker Rebecca Miller (Personal Velocity, The Private Lives of Pippa Lee) has spent her life surrounded by people more famous than herself, from her father, playwright Arthur Miller, to her husband, actor Daniel Day-Lewis. But fame doesn't seem to be her goal, especially since she traded acting for directing decades ago (her mother, Austrian photographer IngeMorath, is no slouch, either).
This is one of the ideas driving the screwball comedy Maggie's Plan, her most satisfying film to date. Greta Gerwig plays Maggie, a college arts adviser, who has had lousy luck with men, but longs to have a baby. So she comes up with a plan—it involves underwear-model-turned-actor Travis Fimmel—but fate intervenes when she falls for Ethan Hawke’s unhappily married anthropology professor, John.
His Danish wife, Georgette (Julianne Moore, having a ball in art-piece-like outfits), an imperious intellectual, is the star of the family, while John has been struggling to write the Great American Novel (since Hawke is a novelist in real life, this almost plays like a good-natured dig at the actor).
Miller loves these characters, including Maya Rudolph and Bill Hader as Maggie's unfiltered friends, too much to paint any of them as villains, and if Maggie's plans–there are three altogether—are complicated by the vagaries of human desire, her happy ending feels fully earned.