By Lisa Schwarzbaum
Updated November 24, 2009 at 05:00 AM EST
Gene Page

The Private Lives of Pippa Lee

  • Movie

If anyone can knit the unraveling title character in The Private Lives of Pippa Lee into a recognizable woman, it’s Robin Wright. Always an actor of great physical loveliness, the star, now in her 40s, has a unique talent for conveying the minute mood shifts of an adult woman wised up by her own aging. She’s pleasing as ever to watch in this high-class production by writer-director Rebecca Miller (Personal Velocity), adapted from Miller’s own novel. But the rarefied dramatique circles in which Pippa (literally) sleepwalks are such a mess of highfalutin complications that it’s impossible to empathize with the sad, lost, fragile heroine. (She’s much more relatable in the novel.) The mix is Lifetime soap?meets?Woody Allen smart-set comedy, with less humor and a genteel Connecticut setting.

This we know: Pippa is married to a much older man, Herb (Alan Arkin), a successful publisher who left his wife (Monica Bellucci) for Pippa when the former Pippa Sarkissian was a crazy, drug- and sex-addled filly (played, in flashback, by Gossip Girl‘s Blake Lively). Now while Herb makes eyes at a new younger, crazy woman (Winona Ryder), Pippa somnambulates her way into a bond with her neighbor’s emotionally trip-wired son (Keanu Reeves). The name-brand cast gives the movie buzz, but no velocity. C

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The Private Lives of Pippa Lee

  • Movie
  • R
  • 93 minutes