“Pippa Lee” Has Many Lives
Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades
Rebecca Miller swears her new movie isn’t autobiographical, even though it’s about a Connecticut housewife seeking to make peace with the memories of her youth and formidable parents.
Never mind that Rebecca is the daughter of literary legend Arthur Miller and photographer Inge Morath. Or that she’s married to actor Daniel Day-Lewis.
“It would be a mistake to get me confused with Pippa,” says Miller. “Although I know that world of Connecticut intellectuals, it is not my life. Some of the things I love about Pippa are the things that are most unlike me.”
“The Private Lives of Pippa Lee” is currently playing at the Tropic Cinema. The film gives us the story of a woman trying to come to terms with the conflicts between her present and past.
A former party girl, Pippa Lee has found stability as the wife of a brilliant publisher thirty years her senior. But after suffering multiple heart attacks he decides to move to a retirement community in Connecticut, and Pippa finds her life thrown into an emotional turmoil.
While her husband fears senility and death, Pippa develops a tendency to sleepwalk. But a sleeping disorder turns out to be the least of her late-in-life problems. As she reflects on her past, we learn about the events that have shaped her into the woman she is … or the woman she pretends to be.
Robin Wright Penn (“The Princess Bride.” “Forrest Gump”) stars as the fiftyish Pippa. Blake Lively (TV’s “Gossip Girl”) plays Pippa’s younger self in the flashbacks. Alan Arkin (“Little Miss Sunshine,” “Sunshine Cleaning”) is the older husband. And Wynona Ryder (”Girl, Interrupted,” “Autumn in New York”) appears as his mistress.
Add Keneau Reeves (“The Matrix,” “The Lake House”) as Pippa’s Jesus-tattooed boyfriend, Maria Bello (“The Jane Austin Book Club,” “A History of Violence”) as her alcoholic mother, and Julianne Moore (”The Hours,” “The End of the Affair”) as a lesbian photographer from her Bohemian past – suddenly you have a great cast.
Robin Wright Penn spent a year talking to Rebecca about the role while the film was struggling to find funding. “I got to know her as a woman and as a writer and then as a director,” explains Wright Penn.
Having spent a number of years married to bad-boy actor Sean Penn, Robin Wright Penn understands Pippa’s turbulent life. “I think we all can relate to just being a woman and the evolution of life and the different lives that you do live. 20-30, 30-40, they’re truly different lives. And that self-reflection that comes with each life when you look back, right?”
Think: “Diary of a Mad Housewife” and you’ll get the idea.
“I don’t have all the answers," admits writer-director Rebecca Miller. “It’s more that I’m bringing up all sorts of questions and incongruities and things that don’t match because that’s what people really are, these anomalies.”
“The Private Lives of Pippa Lee” is at heart a domestic drama. But Miller quips, “This is as close as I’ve ever come to a romantic comedy.”
[from Solares Hill]