Wright Penn Lifts Pippa Lee
Strong cast boosts 'highbrow chick flick'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 27, 2009 9:32 AM CST

(Newser) – The ensemble melodrama The Private Lives of Pippa Lee is receiving largely lukewarm reviews, but most critics agree that star Robin Wright Penn's top-notch performance gives it a vital lift.

  • Wright , as a former wild child turned desperately bored middle-aged housewife, "is the miracle this picture needs, helping the material achieve an emotional tempo it wouldn’t otherwise reach without her stellar contribution," writes Brian Orndorf.

  • Writer-director Rebecca Miller, adapting her own novel, "is after the elusive charm of a highbrow chick flick," writes Robert Abele at the Los Angeles Times, but the movie has ended up perched "uncomfortably between flat whimsy and Lifetime movie crescendos."
  • "The plot can be a bit episodic and has a whiff of the familiar," writes Claudia Puig at USA Today, but a strong cast, including Keanu Reeves as Pippa's intriguing next-door neighbor, helps it rise above the genre.
  • "Miller never really fleshes out all of these colorful characters in her emotionally facile script, leaving the heavy lifting to the actors," writes Lou Lumenick at the New York Post. "Fortunately ... Wright is more than up to the challenge."