Director Rebecca Miller
Starring Robin Wright Penn, Alan Arkin, Winona Ryder, Ryan Mcdonald
It’s tough being gorgeous, rich and blonde; at first glance that seems to be the queasy, distancing theme at the heart of Rebecca Miller’s fourth feature.
Has her own family history – Miller’s playwright-legend father Arthur divorced Marilyn Monroe the year before she was born – rubbed off on her tale of a placid housewife (Robin Wright Penn) quietly suffocating in the shadow of her brilliant husband?
Only Miller knows the truth, but she’s obviously captivated by the travails of a beautiful woman heading for a mid-life breakdown (fridgeraiding, sleepwalking, accepting lifts from Keanu Reeves).
While her heroine is misunderstood (until her event-ridden past unravels in flashback), she’s not going to melt too many moviegoers’ hearts.
Wright Penn is probably a tad young for the role, while seeing crinkly screen hubby Alan Arkin (a hugely celebrated publisher, no less) slipping tongue sandwiches to Gossip Girl Blake Lively, the leggy teenage version of Pippa Lee, isn’t recommended for viewers with weak stomachs.
What Miller’s movie does possess in spades is a spry, oddball streak of humour and an assembly line of funky character parts for cool, charisma-packed actresses like Maria Bello, Winona Ryder, Julianne Moore and Monica Bellucci, who keep the blood pumping as, respectively, Pippa’s fucked-up mum, neurotic pal, aunt’s bad-girl lover and Arkin love rival.
Pippa’s teenagedirtbag escapades ward off apathy and Wright Penn makes her glassy-eyed ennui a sly comment on trapped-wife syndrome. But even as we watch Pippa Lee grow a backbone, Miller never quite finds her hidden depths.
Wright Penn and a starry line-up of quality actresses all having a blast (Bello, Ryder, Moore, Bellucci) spare Pippa Lee’s blushes. If it’s an ultimately shallow journey, jagged humour and a few sharp tugs of emotion keep it rolling.