The Private Lives of Pippa Lee

Poster for The Private Lives of Pippa Lee

Winter 2010 Features series

Sunday, February 7, 2010 at 4:00pm
Sunday, February 7, 2010 at 7:00pm

Acadia Cinema's Al Whittle Theatre
450 Main Street, Wolfville, NS

Directed by Rebecca Miller

Screenplay by Rebecca Miller

Starring Robin Wright Penn, Alan Arkin, Blake Lively, Maria Bello, Julianne Moore, Keanu Reeves, Winona Ryder, Zoe Kazan, and Monica Belluci

Rated NR · 1h 40m
United States

View trailer

Does anyone really know the eponymous heroine of The Private Lives of Pippa Lee? Ostensibly a well-off model wife, mother and friend, Pippa wears each of her masks just a little loosely. Played to perfection by Robin Wright Penn (White Oleander, The Singing Detective), Pippa is a woman for our times. In this smart study of life at the top of the social food chain, writer-director Rebecca Miller adapts her own novel in a wrenching yet often hilarious look at one enigmatic woman.

Pippa and her publisher husband, Herb (Alan Arkin, Little Miss Sunshine, Sunshine Cleaning), have just moved to Connecticut following Herb’s heart attack. Accustomed to the creative whirl of New York, Pippa adjusts slowly to her beige-toned suburban home and the slower pace of small-town life. Regular dinners with their friends Sam (Mike Bender, Reign Over Me) and Sandra (Winona Ryder, Mr. Deeds, A Scanner Darkly) provide some reprieve, but it is not until their neighbours’ recently divorced son Chris (Keanu Reeves, A Scanner Darkly, The Lake House) moves in next door that Pippa begins to rediscover facets of herself that have long been in hibernation. As she cares for an older husband who appears to be drifting farther and farther away, unsettling memories from her past swell up and threaten to smother her. Furthermore, strange incidents add to the growing tension in the home: someone has been sleepwalking, indulging in messy late-night snacks and taking the car out for nocturnal spins.

Pippa Lee is the story of a woman who has faced many challenges but is still trying to figure herself out. Taking us from Pippa’s troubled years growing up in the fifties and sixties to her seemingly more peaceful life in the present day, Miller’s narrative traverses both the highs of falling in love and the crises arising from drug abuse and family trauma.

Miller lends both a zany sense of humour and an incontestable talent for storytelling to this tale of an uncompromising free spirit. Though Pippa may already have survived her youth, we learn that coming of age is a process that never stops.