Tuesday, 19 July 2016

REVIEW - MAGGIE'S PLAN (REBECCA MILLER)


Culture is an ever-changing concept. Who we are today may not be who we are tomorrow, and thus the culture around us shifts as we do. It is a representation of a collective group of people, separate, though not exclusive, societal sections defining and perusing their separate cultural characteristics, and defining them further in this perusal. For our art to reflect our culture might qualify as mere flattery, but it's often a most welcome, valuable form of flattery. There comes a point, however, where such reflections become so numerous they simply only reflect themselves; such is the solipsism of America's cultural elite that has largely abandoned the pursuit of defining their culture through intelligence and innovation, instead turning in on themselves to reflect, represent and recover the same old subjects ad infinitum. Resultantly, Maggie's Plan is as much a hit in the accuracy of its representation, and indeed in the intelligence that can't be entirely suppressed in its making, as it is a dud in the familiarity of its representation, and the insufferable smugness that can't be at all avoided. Rebecca Miller's cheeky, quasi-ironic touch may once have seemed fresh in this now-overstuffed indie sub-genre, but it's yet another overused aspect of its identity, and its duplicitousness is especially offensive in this film. We're supposed to enjoy Maggie's Plan's cliches, then admire its makers for exposing them, then ignore the fact that they're still insistent upon employing them for our enjoyment nonetheless. It's supercilious, and it's one of a number of qualities that detracts from the enduring positive attributes herein. The dialogue is varying levels of sharp, including exactly the right level at times, and there's a charming performance from Julianne Moore. You may find it tough to recall these details, however; this is run-of-the-mill self-aggrandizement from premier purveyors of culture, falling asleep on yet another job.