Robin Wright turns in her best performance since Forrest Gump in the quirky drama-comedy The Private Lives of Pippa Lee, but the movie itself fails to leave a lasting impression. Written and directed by Rebecca Miller, Pippa Lee also stars Alan Arkin, Keanu Reeves, Maria Bello, Winona Ryder, Julianne Moore and Blake Lively.
In the movie, Wright plays the title character, a mother who has lived for decades with her much-older husband (Arkin). As he enters his waning days, she finds new love in the form of Reeves, prompting a midlife crisis and revelation. She also looks back on her past and the many decisions that drove her to this point. Lively plays a younger version of Pippa.
Pippa Lee is a coming-of-age tale for a woman who may or may not be past her prime, and Wright captures the complex emotions of the character incredibly well. Her performance is subtle if not subdued, a conflict of strong emotions and weak confidence that makes her so intriguing. She won't win any awards for the performance, but it's still a good role for her.
The movie itself is fine, with some enjoyable moments and interesting characters. Miller, who also wrote the book upon which the movie is based, has assembled an excellent cast, but the story and movie are simply adequate. There's nothing wrong with the film, but similar stories have been done to better results. The young and old stories of the title character are reminiscent of Fried Green Tomatoes, but the movie is neither dramatic nor funny enough to come anywhere close to that classic.
In fact, The Private Lives of Pippa Lee is consistently unremarkable; there's not a single moment that stands out as memorable or inspiring. It's one of those movies that is easy to watch and easy to forget.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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