The Private Lives of Pippa Lee tells the story of a woman who is on the verge of becoming mentally unhinged and the process she goes through in order to move on with her life. Robin Wright Penn stars as Pippa, a married woman who can’t seem to get a grasp on reality and is on the verge of losing her sanity.
Pippa is married to Herb (Alan Arkin), the father of her two adult children (Zoe Kazan, Ryan McDonald) and a man who is decades older than she. After Herb decides on moving to a retirement home, Pippa starts having hallucinations and begins sleepwalking. While unconsciously preparing for Herb’s death, Pippa begins having constant flashbacks of her youth.
Pippa’s mother, played by Maria Bello, was a pill popping lunatic whose emotions changed from night-to-day in the blink of an eye and was the cause for Pippa’s erratic behavior as a young woman. Pippa is becoming concerned that she is turning out just like her, but it’s mainly her insecurities playing with her head. As Pippa tries to get a grip on her thoughts and adjust to new surroundings, she befriends her neighbor’s son, Chris (Keanu Reeves), who is in the middle of a crossroads all his own.
When Pippa learns some surprising news, she is forced to take control of her life and make some decisions that are best for her and her family. Her struggle from misguided youth to an in control mother is not without many highlights and failures, but she is determined to live the best possible life there is for herself.
In the flashbacks, the younger version of Pippa is played by Blake Lively. She did an incredible job in this role and it is starkly different from any other role she has played in her career to date. Wright Penn gave such an understated performance, but it was beautifully done. She played Pippa with such a subdued nature, but you could always believe the emotions she was portraying in the scenes.
Julianne Moore and Winona Ryder were interesting choices as part of the supporting cast in this film. Moore had a small role, but definitely made an impact as she played someone who was a corrupting influence. I almost didn’t recognize Ryder at first; she gave a very entertaining performance though. She sure does have a knack for playing crazy.
This movie is without any bells and whistles, but it is a good character-driven film.