The Private Lives of Pippa Lee (15)

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The Independent Culture

Robin Wright Penn ought to have been some great director's muse, like Catherine Deneuve or Liv Ullmann.

It's very rarely a movie has done justice to her lovely mater dolorosa face, though the writer-director Rebecca Miller has given it her best shot in this pained, partly-autobiographical drama. Wright Penn plays Pippa, a one-time wild child now married to a much older husband (Alan Arkin, with more than a touch of Arthur Miller) and fraught with anxieties about his frailty and her own late-onset sleepwalking. Guilt about her late depressive mother (Maria Bello) is also stewing in the mix. Keanu Reeves plays the lost soul who shows up in their neighbourhood, a former Jesuit who at least makes a change from the querulous "artistic" types Pippa has spent her whole life hanging around. It's well-acted, sensitive, and a tad melodramatic in its lurch from one crisis to another, but you'd forgive it a lot more for Wright Penn's magnificent portrait of unaffected goodness.

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