Review: The Private Lives of Pippa Lee DVD

STUDIO: Screen Media | DIRECTOR: Rebecca Miller | STARS: Robin Wright Penn, Keanu Reeves, Alan Arkin, Blake Lively, Maria Bello
RELEASE DATE: 3/2/2010 | PRICE: DVD $27.98, Blu-ray $29.98
BONUSES: commentary track with director and star Wright, cast and director interviews, featurette
SPECS: R | 98 min. | Drama | widescreen | Dolby stereo | English subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

A thinking woman’s “chick flick,” The Private Lives of Pippa Lee benefits from a terrific ensemble cast and the lead character’s glamorously oppressive array of neuroses. Adapting her novel, indie filmmaker Rebecca Miller (The Ballad of Jack and Rose) — formerly best known as the daughter of playwright Arthur Miller — avoids TV movie sentimentality in the film, but does immerse her characters in a kind of cool despair.

The film showcases Robin Wright Penn (The Princess Bride) as the wife of an older publisher (Alan Arkin, City Island). She is troubled by memories of her pill-addicted mother (Maria Bello, The Company Men) and the suicide of her husband’s ex (Monica Bellucci, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice). When she believes she’s suffering a nervous breakdown, she encounters a confused but studly neighbor (Keanu Reeves, The Matrix), whose presence delivers the movie safely back into the world of multiplex moviemaking.

Supporting roles are filled by notables from Winona Ryder (Black Swan) to Julianne Moore (The Big Lebowski) and, in a choice bit of casting, the younger, more glamorous and neurotic Pippa is played by Gossip Girl’s Blake Lively (who participates in the film’s most eye-opening moments, as she models in cheesecake bondage photos for a friendly photographer played by Moore).

TheBlu-ray includes a commentary track featuring Miller and Wright Penn, while the packaging wisely promotes the participation of one executive producer, some gent named Brad Pitt.

 

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About Ed

Ed Grant has written about film for a wide range of periodicals, books and websites. He edited the reference book The Motion Picture Guide Annual and, since 1993, has produced and hosted the weekly cable program Media Funhouse, which Time magazine called “the most eclectic and useful movie show on TV.”