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Movie Review: The Private Lives of Pippa Lee December 1, 2009

Posted by judylobo in Movie Review Archives, Movie Reviews.
Movie Review: The Private Lives of Pippa Lee

Alternate Title: A Woman on the Verge

Story: Every so often a film comes along that is fresh, subtle, surprising and interesting. Director and writer Rebecca Miller (based on her own novel) has delivered such a film.

Pippa Lee is 50-ish and has been married, seemingly forever, to a man 30 years older than herself. She bore him two children (now adults) and their once vibrant, exciting, Manhattan life has been downsized and silenced by a move to an adult community in Connecticut. Her 80 year old husband has had three major heart attacks and it seems as if they are preparing for his death.

Pippa seems lost, dazed, bored, confused and curious about who she really is and why does everyone think she is an enigma. Her bouts of sleepwalking seem to indicate that her psyche is in ‘the go’ position, but her waking life is staid.

In often hysterical flashbacks, we meet Pippa as a little girl, enduring her mother’s drug addled mood swings and as a rebellious teenager who flees home at 16, never to return.

Characters, rich in texture, flow in and out of the film. There are delightful surprises throughout. I highly recommend this film to everyone.

Acting: Robin Wright Penn as Pippa Lee, gives the best performance of her life. Brava. Blake Lively as Young Pippa, bears an amazing resemblance to Penn and does a fine job. Alan Arkin as 80 year old Herb Lee, does not disappoint. Keanu Reeves as the half-baked neighbor, Chris is perfect. Maria Bello as Pippa’s mother, gives her usual perfect pitch performance. Zoe Kazan as daughter Grace Lee, was the only character I did not buy. Winona Ryder as friend Sandra is back. She is hysterical. I have missed her. Welcome home. Mike Binder, Monica Bellucci, Ryan McDonald, Julianne Moore, Robin Weigert and Shirley Knight all give terrific supporting performances.

Trivia: Rebecca Miller is the daughter of Arthur Miller and is married to Daniel Day-Lewis. She began her career as a painter and sculptor at Yale, exhibiting in several galleries before the theatrical urge struck.She met husband Day-Lewis at her father’s house while the two men were preparing the film version of Miller’s play The Crucible. Robin Wright Penn was born in Dallas, Texas in 1966, but grew up in San Diego, California. She has two children with Sean Penn. She is the National campaign spokesperson for Myasthenia Gravis. Blake Lively was born in a showbiz family in California and quickly followed her parents and siblings steps. Her first role was Trixie the Tooth Fairy in 1998 movie “Sandman” directed by her dad, Ernie Lively. Her big break came along a few years later though. Blake was up to finish high school when she got the co-starring role of Bridget in “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” on 2005. he stars in Gossip Girl.

Predilection: None

Critters: A lion and a dog that sadly gets hit by a car. You do not see the actual accident, but you do see the dog in the street. I am not sure why this scene was important to the film as I found it disturbing.

Food: Food is a major component to this film. Lots of cakes and desserts, fish, butter flied lamb, a pig with an apple in its mouth and more.

Sex Spectrum: Some funny sex and some tender sex.

Soundtrack: A delightful mix throughout the years.

Opening Titles: We meet Pippa, being toasted in hr hew home by friends before the title. All other credits are at the end of this film.

Visual Art: The walls are fairly empty since the Lees downsized from their Manhattan digs. There is a funny scene in a pottery class.

Theater Audience: Pretty crowded with old and young.

Weather: Connecticut is lovely.

Sappy Factor: 0

Quirky Meter: 0

Squirm Scale: 2 – Dog scene (see above).

Drift Factor: I paid attention throughout

Predictability Level: I was not sure what was going to happen.

Tissue Usage: 0

Oscar Worthy: Perhaps

Big Screen or Rental: I always say go for the big screen but this film would still be fine as a rental.

Length: 90 minutes




1. Carol King - December 2, 2009

I watched the trailer and thought Robin Wright Penn looked to young to be a 50-ish person and Alan Arkin too young to be 80.

Once you said RWP was born in 1966 I quickly did the math (even though I’ve never won a math award) and discovered she is only 40 something. THAT’S why I didn’t buy her as a 50 something person.

Since I can’t seem to get over that age issue, I will, as usual, wait for it to come on HBO.

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