The Private Lives Of Pippa Lee

"Excellent"

The Private Lives Of Pippa Lee Review


As a more emotional take on the themes examined in American Beauty, this internalised drama is subtle and unpredictable. It also features terrific performances from an eclectic cast.

Pippa (Wright) is married to the much-older Herb (Arkin), a publisher who hates that he's now retired. But it's Pippa whose world is starting to unravel, as she reaches the point where she needs more than being a trophy wife and mother to two now-grown kids (Kazan and McDonald). Her sleepwalking antics indicate that her subconscious has already figured this out, but it'll take a look at her childhood (played by Lively and youngster Madeline McNulty) to help her see what she needs to do next.

"I've had enough of being an enigma," Pippa says early on. "I want to be known." This is the core idea explored in this insightful film, which probes how identity is linked to circumstances. In Pippa's case, her life as a wife and mother was satisfying while it lasted, but she now needs to be defined by who she is, not whom she cares for. This is a resonant theme that we can really identify with, even if Pippa (and the whole film) feels somewhat unfocussed.

But Wright delivers a remarkably likeable, introspective performance; we can see her inner light start to flicker as she reluctantly upsets her ordered life.

And both Lively and McNulty are terrific as well, while the supporting cast around Pippa is fairly jaw-dropping. In addition to the always wonderful Arkin, plus a hilariously brittle role for Ryder, there are telling cameos from Moore (as a rebellious "aunt"), Bellucci (as a sexy ex), Binder (as a clueless author) and Bello (as Pippa's mercurial mother). And Reeves is effective in his role as a neighbour's disillusioned son, whose stony exterior hides a soft centre that's understandably attractive to Pippa.

The film is packed with gentle observations, including the fact that Pippa has an addictive personality. And while some scenes are indulgent or rather emotionally muted, the film is also blackly funny and shot with a remarkable fluidity by Miller and cinematographer Declan Quinn. It's a beautiful look at someone who feels that they may not be needed anymore and, as a result, is having "a very quiet nervous breakdown". And in the end it's the unexpected twist on ideas of happiness and sadness that lingers.



The Private Lives Of Pippa Lee

Facts and Figures

Run time: 98 mins

In Theaters: Friday 10th July 2009

Distributed by: Screen Media Films

Production compaines: Elevation Filmworks, Grand Army Entertainment

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 68%
Fresh: 51 Rotten: 24

IMDB: 6.5 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Pippa Lee (as Robin Wright Penn), as Herb Lee, as Chris Nadeau, as Kat, as Sandra Dulles, as Sam Shapiro, as Ben Lee, Cornel West as Don Sexton, as Grace Lee, as Suky Sarkissian, as Dot Nadeau, as Young Pippa, as Gigi Lee, Adam Shonkwiler as Chester Sarkissian - Age 22

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

Contactmusic 2017 Exclusive

New Movies

Patriots Day Movie Review

Patriots Day Movie Review

The third time's a charm for Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg, who previously teamed...

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

It's no surprise that this creep-out horror thriller is packed with whizzy visual invention, since...

It's Only the End of the World Movie Review

It's Only the End of the World Movie Review

At just 27 years old, Canadian filmmaker Xavier Dolan has an almost overwhelming set of...

Hidden Figures Movie Review

Hidden Figures Movie Review

This film recounts such a great true story that we don't mind the fact that...

The Founder Movie Review

The Founder Movie Review

This is the story of Ray Kroc, the man who created the concept of McDonald's....

John Wick: Chapter 2 Movie Review

John Wick: Chapter 2 Movie Review

Keanu Reeves picks up his supremely efficient hitman immediately where the 2015 original left him:...

Fences Movie Review

Fences Movie Review

After winning Tony Awards on Broadway, Denzel Washington and Viola Davis reteam for a film...

Advertisement
The Lego Batman Movie Movie Review

The Lego Batman Movie Movie Review

A spin-off from 2014's awesome The Lego Movie, this raucously paced action-comedy is proof that...

The Space Between Us Movie Review

The Space Between Us Movie Review

While the premise of this movie makes it look like a sci-fi adventure, the truth...

Toni Erdmann Movie Review

Toni Erdmann Movie Review

On paper, the idea of a two-hour 40-minute German comedy may not seem very promising,...

Gold Movie Review

Gold Movie Review

Based on a true story, this lively and sometimes outrageous adventure is packed with twists...

Loving Movie Review

Loving Movie Review

While this film tackles a huge issue in the history of race relations in America,...

T2 Trainspotting Movie Review

T2 Trainspotting Movie Review

It's been 20 years since we last saw four freewheeling young junkies from Edinburgh spiral...

Hacksaw Ridge Movie Review

Hacksaw Ridge Movie Review

Based on an astounding true story, this battlefield drama mixes warm emotion with intense action...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.