Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB. USA, 2015. Franklin Street, Freedom Media, Hall Monitor, Hyperion Media Group, Locomotive, Rachael Horovitz Productions, Round Films. Screenplay by Rebecca Miller, based on the story by Karen Rinaldi. Cinematography by Sam Levy. Produced by Damon Cardasis, Rachael Horovitz, Rebecca Miller. Music by Michael Rohatyn. Production Design by Alexandra Schaller. Costume Design by Malgosia Turzanska. Film Editing by Sabine Hoffman. Toronto International Film Festival 2015.
Greta Gerwig is a college professor who is absolutely sure that she is ready to have a baby, and since there is no father in sight, she has selected a donor and is prepared to do the rest on her own. On the eve of accomplishing this task she meets a fellow instructor (Ethan Hawke) who asks for advice on his newly written manuscript, which then leads to them falling in love and him leaving his intense German academic wife (Julianne Moore) and two children for Gerwig. Fast forward to their marriage and child and Gerwig finds herself in need of a new plan: Hawke is so focused on finishing his novel, for which he abandoned his own life in academia, that his priorities completely erase hers, leaving her to support the family, take care of three kids and accomplish her own career deadlines on her own time. The solution, she decides, is to get him back with his first wife, leading to a very humorous collusion between the two women to accomplish this task. Fresh and funny, this rare foray into the lighter side of things by director Rebecca Miller starts out smart and sassy and then falls into a terrible habit of meandering between scenes in its final third. Gerwig is deliciously droll in the lead, delivering the dialogue with her usual brand of deadpan delight without the sharper edges of her Baumbach characters (just look at her face when he gives her a glass of hot whiskey, it’s one of the loveliest moments in a recent film), but Miller loses her focus on the character by the end and instead gets lost in unnecessary drama between Hawke and Moore that makes for an uneven tone. Moore’s characterization is endlessly watchable, a woman constantly torn between pride of her accomplishments and apologies for her hard outer shell, burdened with a hysterical, villainous accent that makes even the most innocuous phrases sound like barked commands.