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With: Robin Wright Penn, Alan Arkin, Blake Lively, Winona Ryder, Maria Bello, Mike Binder, Zoe Kazan, Shirley Knight, Keanu Reeves, J.R. Horne, Robin Weigert, Julianne Moore, Monica Bellucci, Tim Guinee, Drew Beasley, Madeline McNulty, Beckett Melville, Ryan McDonald, Cornelius West
Written by: Rebecca Miller, based on her novel
Directed by: Rebecca Miller
MPAA Rating: R for sexual content, brief nudity, some drug material and language
Running Time: 98
Date: 02/09/2009

The Private Lives of Pippa Lee (2009)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Flipping 'Pippa'

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Rebecca Miller, the daughter of playwright Arthur, writes and directs her fourth film, based on her own novel. The Private Lives of Pippa Lee provides a nice role for Robin Wright Penn, but it's a film in search of a tone. It jumps from quirky and dryly funny to overwrought and melodramatic and back again. Moreover, it has the problem of showing Pippa Lee at several different ages, and the casting of Blake Lively as the younger Pippa and Penn as the older Pippa does not quite mesh.

Pippa runs away from her drug-addled mother (Maria Bello) becomes a free spirit and eventually meets publisher Herb Lee (Alan Arkin), whom she marries. In the present, she and Herb have moved to a retirement community, and she begins to feel lost. Her children don't like her, and she begins sleepwalking and having little outbursts. She also becomes fascinated with a convenience store clerk Chris Nadeau (Keanu Reeves).

Ultimately, the film isn't comfortable with allowing Pippa to just be lost; it continually looks for footholds and save havens, and it loses the flow. There are plenty of laughs and good performances to keep it going, including those by Winona Ryder, Julianne Moore and Monica Bellucci, but it just never comes together.

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