Watch Greta Gerwig & Julianne Moore Hatch A Plan

We all know how this goes: you're shopping for clothes. You spot something that you like and you try it on. It fits, and looks pretty OK in the harsh light of the dressing room. But when you take it home, that piece of clothing looks out of place in your life, and so you decide that while there's nothing fundamentally wrong with it, someone else would probably appreciate it more. That's the metaphor for Maggie's Plan , the new romantic comedy starring Greta Gerwig, Julianne Moore and Ethan Hawke. When the heady first days of the relationship between Maggie (Gerwig) and John (Hawke) cool into something that doesn't quite work, Maggie can't just dig the receipt out of her wallet and return him to the sales counter. Instead, she hatches a plan to set John up with his ex-wife Georgette (Moore).

Sound like an absurd plan to you? Well, you're not alone. In this exclusive clip from Maggie's Plan, Maggie pitches her idea to John's ex, even though Maggie and John aren't even broken up yet, and unsurprisingly, Georgette fails to take Maggie's attempt at playing Cupid as a compliment. Instead, she sees it as Maggie having taken her husband and now wanting to get rid of him, guilt-free. Yet for Maggie, the reasoning for her choice is that if Georgette and John can reconcile and she can play a part in that, then any residual ickiness she feels about being with a man who lives with her instead of with his children will be gone. At least, that's Georgette's diagnosis.

Eventually, Georgette does agree to the scheme, making two former rivals into partners. Watch the exclusive Maggie's Plan clip below to appreciate the journey that must have required (and Moore's fetchingly furry sweater), since Georgette's knee-jerk response is to accuse Maggie of being a "control freak" and to kick her out of her house. Fair enough.

From this conversation, it sounds like the third wheel in each of the women's relationships with John isn't each other, but rather John's ego. The man they've both loved is a novelist, and Maggie's Plan endeavors to explore the particular challenge of sleeping next to an artist every night. Maggie proposes to Georgette — who's a disciplined academic — that John "needs" her apathy to his work to keep "him in balance." In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, filmmaker Rebecca Miller addressed a question about this film being somewhat inspired by her marriage to famously method actor Daniel Day-Lewis.

I don’t think you can avoid your own life. Certainly I recognize the whole idea of a long passion that is largely fueled by a real, deep interest in each other’s minds, and that that can be erotic and that can be exciting and something that can hold people together. And certainly in painting a portrait of a real marriage — the pitfalls and the beauties of it — I suppose I know that more from being married.
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Bottom line: marriage is hard, for artists and non-artists alike. Catch Maggie's Plan in theaters on May 20 to see if Maggie can help Georgette and John get their second chance.

Image: Sony Pictures Classics