Thursday, 10 November 2011

The Private Lives of Pippa Lee

UK Release: 10th July 2009
Watched on Recorded TV: Saturday 6th November 2011
Rating: 12A
Genre: Drama, Romance
Runtime: 1hr 38mins
Tagline: She lived many lives - except her own
IMDb Plot Synopsis: Pippa Lee feels dislocated when she and her husband Herb move from Manhattan to a retirement community. He's older than she, they have two children who are young adults, and the daughter hardly speaks to Pippa. Pippa tells us about her life, in long flashbacks, starting with her birth to a mom who was a social dynamo and addicted to pills. As a teen, Pippa moves out and lives a hippie life until meeting Herb, who was then married to a young siren. Pippa discloses tragedies and discoveries. In the present, she's sleepwalking at night and talking from time to time with a burned-out case, the 35-year-old son of a neighbor. Can Pippa connect?

My Review: I read the book of Private Lives of Pippa Lee many years ago and was fond of it, so despite being excited to finally watch the film, I also came to it with a few expectations... 
Now, I can’t say I loved the book as it was quite upsetting, while also being very immersive - which in many ways is reflected in the film. However the book painted a beautiful portrait of a woman and her battles to be a different person to different people in her various stages of her life. She has been through quite a lot - a medicated mother, an exploitative short stay at her Aunt’s, being a wild child in the city and then finding Herb many years her senior who she eventually married. The portrait of a woman like Pippa was always going to be hard to translate to film. The flow was a little off as it sipped in between her present and past, generally lingering to long in the present as I was itching to go back to the delectable Blake Lively who, like Keanu Reeves, was seriously under used. I don’t think the reasons why she behaved as she did were clear at all and so threw the film a little. 
Another problem I had was that I wasn’t a fan of Robin Wright’s performance. Therefore as the lead, and in the majority of the film, this doesn’t help my opinion. I think she was a little to closed off and Lively and Wright too different, making her transition from one to the another pretty unbelievable and skimmed over too much. Reeves’ was actually, in hindsight, in the film more than his character properly featured in the book and he was the most likeable of the characters, but Wright and him didn’t have much chemistry at all so the whole situation between them felt a bit too forced and awkward, unfortunately. The timing was also a bit off - why wait all these years to ‘break free’ from herself and her past? It was all a bit stiff. 
I must mention Winona Ryder whose performance (the little of it that there was) was excellent. Her gradual breakdown into a psychotic mess was fascinating to watch and worked very well as the catalyst for the change in Pippa. 
Overall though I did like it - it just didn’t grab me in the way that the book did. It was dark and was generally miserable with a slightly over- sensationalised ending, but a decent and introspective film that is worth a watch on a sunday afternoon. 
Score: 7.5/10

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