Synopsis: In The Private Lives of Pippa Lee, Pippa Lee moves into a retirement community with her older husband and slowly begins to have a nervous breakdown.
Release Date: July 10, 2009 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Genre(s): Comedy, Drama
The Private Lives of Pippa Lee is about getting to know Pippa Lee. From the second of her birth to the day she finally does something out of character. With a heavy dose of voiceover, her life unfolds before us, and all of the questions we have from the first scene are answered slowly throughout – like her matter of fact rhetorical statement, “I wonder if I’m having a very quiet breakdown”. As The Private Lives of Pippa Lee unfolds we are given memories and present day occurrences that spark our interest in Pippa, but there is also plenty of uninteresting and slowly paced moments where your investment in her is lost. Many things come across as cliche and drab while others, like her sleepwalking to the market to buy cigarettes that she then chain smokes without knowing in her car, are downright hilarious. The Private Lives of Pippa Lee takes patience, and a desire to look deeper into what it may be showing and not exactly telling about a woman. For Pippa could be any woman, and she is many women, all rolled into one debacle of a package.
Maria Bello how I fell in love with thee. With your diabolical performance as Pippa’s mother Suky, you casually grace the screen and then thoroughly overtake it. As you generously consume your “medicine” resulting in a myriad of personalities that include the doting mother, the manic-depressive staring absently at the ceiling from your bed, or a woman ferociously cleaning the floors high on your beloved pills you give insight into not only why Pippa became who she did but also the state of many a housewife sequestered in her white picket fence lifestyle. Yours is a troubled soul, full of lies and deceit to your children and husband, and with every moment you promise to change you break our hearts a little more and at the same time make us desire to learn more about why you are overtaken with such sadness. Any viewer will welcome the opportunity to watch you meltdown at the dinner table.
Then there is Pippa in The Private Lives of Pippa Lee. The aftermath of a troubled childhood due to her mothers lack of stability. The role is played by two actresses, Robin Wright Penn and Blake Lively. Blake Lively gives little to the troubled teen/young adult Pippa as she comes across as any angst-ridden teenager but Robin Wright Penn delivers a performance that couples simplicity and extreme depth with just the look in her eyes. As the grown-up Pippa, she captures the enigma that is her character. The uncapturable personality of a woman whom you think you have figured out but never possibly will. In each and every line she speaks, gesture she makes, and moment she appears on screen the mystery unfolds slightly of who is Pippa Lee but Penn manages to keep her consistently at arm’s length away from the viewer. Just as it should be in a story such as this where even Pippa herself does not really know who she is, but only the person she has become from the choices she has made.
Cast and Crew
- Director(s): Rebecca Miller
- Screenwriter: Rebecca Miller
- Cast: Robin Wright Penn (Pippa Lee), Mike Bender (Sam Shapiro), Alan Arkin (Herb Lee), Winona Ryder (Sandra Dulles), Maria Bello (Suky Sarkissian), Blake Lively (Young Pippa)
- Editor(s): Sabine Hoffmann
- Cinematographer: Declan Quinn
- Production Designer(s): Michael Shaw
- Country Of Origin: USA