The Private Lives of Pippa Lee

DRAMA; 1hr 38min

STARRING: Robin Wright Penn, Blake Lively, Alan Arkin, Keanu Reeves

Village people: Wright Penn and Arkin

Pippa Lee (Wright Penn), publisher’s wife and closed book, has tried out a variety of identities in director Rebecca Miller’s adaptation of her 2008 novel. Married to Herb (Arkin), who is 30 years her senior, and living with him in a Connecticut retirement village while barely 50 herself, Pippa reflects on her life while drifting obligingly through what now passes for one. She is a catalogue-issue wife, as elegant as a thoroughbred. But there are undercurrents and looking back there always have been. “I wonder if I’m having a very quiet nervous breakdown,” she wryly asks herself in the voice-over that threads her fractured past with her troubled present.


Maybe she is. Pippa repeatedly sleepwalks, her controlled calm masking a slowly revealed anxiety. We go with the quizzical flow of this partly because of full-on performances from an enviable cast — Wright Penn carries the show with measured empathy — and partly because Miller is a storyteller with a knowing and distinctive voice. Pippa Lee isn’t easy to warm to at first. But she is remarkably easy to believe in.