Thursday, October 08, 2009


Cast: Robin Wright Penn, Blake Lively, Alan Arkin, Keanu Reeves, Maria Bello, Zoe Kazan, Winona Ryder, Mike Binder, Monica Bellucci and Ryan McDonald
Writer-Director: Rebecca Miller
Time: 93 mins
Rating: * * 1/2 (out of 4)

Robin Wright Penn and Keanu Reeves

PREAMBLE: This is a biopic about a former 'Flower Child' who finds herself struggling with the present and confronting her past as she suffers a 'quiet nervous breakdown'. Adapted by writer-director Rebecca Miller from her best-selling novel, The Private Lives of Pippa Lee, is not every movie-goer's cup of tea despite its stellar cast.

It has not even been shown in the US, but is doing its rounds elsewhere after opening in the UK.

WHAT'S IT ABOUT? Robin Wright Penn is Pippa, a devoted wife and mother who has just moved to a retirement home with her older husband, ex-publisher Herb (Alan Arkin). Trying to redefine herself as something other than a trophy wife or mother, Pippa undergoes a journey of self-discovery, during which she strikes up a friendship with the dope-smoking Chris (Keanu Reeves), the son of her neighbour (Shirley Knight).

Meanwhile, we get flashbacks to her teenage years (played by Gossip Girl's Blake Lively) and examines her relationship with her mercurial, pill-popping mother (Maria Bello), her wild-child punk days (including a stint as a photo model for an aunt's friend played by Julianne Moore) and how she met Herb, when he was still married to his glamorous wife (Monica Bellucci).

HITS & MISSES: Pippa Lee the movie is more about getting acting nominations than making money at the box-office. This is where we see Robin Wright trying her best to give her 'winning performance', and where Arkin, Ryder, Bello and Bellucci try to make a big deal of their roles. And they do not disappoint. Why, even Reeves (obligingly) takes off his shirt for the benefit of his female fans.

My pet peeve about this movie is that Miller tends to get too quirky for her own good. The secondary characters are rather thin even if they are nice to look at. And of course, there is the censorshipo snips of some interestingly intimate moments. Still, I wouldn't consider my time at the cineplex wasted.

THE LOWDOWN: Recommended for fans of great acting.


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