The Private Lives Of Pippa Lee


Reviewed by: Darren Amner

The Private Lives Of Pippa Lee
"Wry, funny and emotionally-charged."

The Private Lives Of Pippa Lee desperately wants to be a big commercial film, it has the makings of one with its starry cast and respected film-maker Rebecca Miller at the helm but its not the complete article it so wishes to be.

Pippa Lee (Robin Wright Penn) has been there, done that, bought the shirt and lived life to the max. Presently, she is a happily married mother to two-grown up children, who now finds herself playing the warm host to various friends at her dinner parties. Pippa is married to legendary publisher Herb Lee (Alan Arkin) whom, at 80, is 30 years her senior and they have just moved from a luxury apartment to a quiet retirement village where they hope to spend their remaining years together.

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Pippa feels a little suppressed by her life - she was once a bit of a wild child who experimented with sex and drugs. As Pippa starts to feel suffocated by her predictable world, past sins begin to appeal, such as smoking. It's only when she meets the son of her neighbour, Chris (Keanu Reeves) - a good looking man who actually listens to her - that she seems tempted by a new romance and to find her true self, which has eluded her until now.

Writer/director Miller picks and tells interesting stories but from a visual standpoint her knowledge of camera work and sense of style appear to be quite limited. With Pippa Lee she's aided by a good DP, Declan Quinn, who frames the suburbs magnificently but overall Pippa Lee is redundant as a visual experience.

Her script, however, is very wry, funny and emotionally charged, creating a wonderful story of self-discovery about a woman who's lived many lives under a single name. As Pippa, Wright Penn puts in a very workman-like performance and delivers at key moments. Blake Lively, playing Pippa in her younger days also delivers a very confident and assured portrayal, and looks to have quite the career ahead of her in film once her television series Gossip Girl comes to an end. Reeves is likable as Chris and when both he and Wright Penn are on screen it makes you wish they had more scenes together.

The best performance, however, comes from Arkin, as Herb, a scene-stealer who is in a league of his own.

I wasn't impressed by the film's pace and tonally it was a little off, when moving to a more serious place, and this made for a slightly unsatisfying viewing experience.

My suggestion would be to wait and catch this film on DVD, but with its cast it might get a little bit more attention theatrically.

Reviewed on: 12 Feb 2009
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A wife who moves to a retirement community with her much older husband, finds herself on the verge of a breakdown.

Director: Rebecca Miller

Writer: Rebecca Miller

Starring: Keanu Reeves, Julianne Moore, Blake Lively, Winona Ryder, Monica Bellucci, Robin Wright Penn, Maria Bello, Alan Arkin, Robin Weigert, Zoe Kazan

Year: 2009

Runtime: 93 minutes

Country: US


BIFF 2009
EIFF 2009

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