Puccini for Beginners

Yes, lesbians can be just as unfunny as Woody Allen.

One friend short of a forming a lesbian repertory staging of Sex and the City, Allegra (Elizabeth Reaser) does not lack for a sounding board when she replaces one lover with two: Grace (Gretchen Mol), a straight girl with dreams of becoming a glassblower, and Philip (Justin Kirk), a Columbia professor with a habit of asking his women what they're ordering at restaurants. A Woody Allen devotee, writer-director Maria Maggenti hawks an insular view of New York City where poverty doesn't exist to illuminate the grotesque solipsism of her characters. The sensitivity of this artless production is such that every peripheral character, human and animal alike, is available only to flatter the egos of the story's power dykes, who, given the dimensions of their living quarters, have some nerve accusing each other of being bourgeois. One good labia joke is not enough to disguise the fact that Maggenti is simply buying time until Allegra's two-timing is revealed, suffocating her story with mentions of her favorite novels and dated references to every buzz word from Laura Mulvey's feminist catalog except for "the male gaze." In short, a nightmare worse than Trust the Man.

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