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Thursday, December 10, 2009

MOVIE REVIEW
The Private Lives Of Pippa Lee

You've Reached Another Dimension: The Pippa Zone


Robin Wright Penn as Pippa Lee and Keanu Reeves as Chris in "The Private Lives Of Pippa Lee", written and
directed by Rebecca Miller, based on her novel.  The film opens in San Francisco tomorrow and continues in other U.S. cities.
    Screen Media Films

By Omar P.L. Moore/PopcornReel.com
Thursday, December 10, 2009

Rebecca Miller writes and directs "The Private Lives Of Pippa Lee", a perceptive and sometimes jarring film about a woman's self-discovery and awakening after years of abuse and drug addiction.  The film is based on Ms. Miller's novel.

Robin Wright Penn does some beautiful work here in one of her most complete performances as Pippa Lee, a fifty-something woman mired in a marriage to a man (Alan Arkin) 30 years her senior.  As Pippa flickers through the time zones of her life she attempts to gain understanding, looking to shed the emotional weight that has confined her to a life in which everyone needs her but where Pippa's own inner peace is at a premium.

Ms. Miller's script offers an entertaining spectacle of funny one-liners and otherwise snappy dialogue within a purposefully disjointed narrative, following Pippa in crisis as she investigates her life up to the point of middle-age, where she presently resides.  Much of the film is effective in conjuring a state of confusion and illusion about a life of disillusion and dysfunction.

Shot in a hazy-looking way by Declan Quinn, "Private Lives" looks like a cloudy seaside of sadness and reflection but as a character-driven effort contains a number of supporting performances that hold an audience's interest.  There's Julianne Moore ("A Single Man") in a cameo as a lover of Pippa's aunt; Maria Bello as Pippa's mother and Blake Lively as a 20-something Pippa, and Mr. Arkin.

Robin Wright Penn has had a good year on the big screen: in "State Of Play" she was effective in a small role as a love interest of Russell Crowe's character.  She also appeared in the anthology film "New York, I Love You" as a spouse who role-plays with her husband in a potentially-troubled marriage.  Here she's good when she has to play a wife looking for herself opposite Mr. Arkin, as she embodies fear and insecurity.  When Ms. Wright Penn's Pippa has a romantic fling with Keanu Reeves' character she resurrects an innocence and child-like fervor of a woman rediscovering herself for the first time.  Her good work, if nothing else, anchors a moderately good film.

Ultimately "The Private Lives Of Pippa Lee" is the kind of film that lingers with an audience.  There's a lot to digest.  What you see may not be impressive on the surface but what you think about afterwards as you mull through the recollections, visuals and complexity of a turbulent life is.

Ms. Miller's film opens tomorrow (Friday) at the Bridge Theater in San Francisco, and expands its run in other cities.

With: Mike Binder (director of "Reign Over Me"), Winona Ryder, Monica Bellucci, Tim Guinee, Robin Weigert, Ryan McDonald, Zoe Kazan and Shirley Knight.

"The Private Lives Of Pippa Lee" is rated R by the Motion Picture Association Of America for sexual content, brief nudity, some drug material and language.  The film's running time is one hour and 40 minutes.       


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