The Private Lives of Pippa Lee: A May-December Romance, Many Years Later

Rebecca Miller's fourth feature may be the only film you'll ever see with both Cornel West and Monica Bellucci in minor roles. But it is also immediately recognizable as the millionth iteration of the story of a sheltered suburban housewife who has a slight crack-up and decides she better get her ya-yas out. Devoted helpmeet Pippa (Robin Wright Penn, in near-permanent Stepford Wife mode), approaching 50, is married to publishing powerhouse Herb (Alan Arkin), a man 30 years her senior who becomes a surrogate daddy. Before finding papa, teenage Pippa (Blake Lively), in flashback, must escape the soul-sucking vortex of Black Beauty–popping mommy (Maria Bello), and is eventually rescued by Herb. Middle-aged Pippa wonders if she's "having a very quiet nervous breakdown": She commits sleep crimes, somnambulistically driving to the convenience store where Chris (Keanu Reeves) works. A wayward son with the Son of God tattooed on his chest, he becomes Pippa's personal Jesus. Though she's to be understood as a 21st-century heroine, Pippa ends up making a retrograde, new-lease-on-life decision similar to that of Betty Draper in Mad Men's third-season finale. Yet this concluding entry in Miller's diary of a mad housewife is supposed to make us root for Pippa, a woman with a new fella but no friends and no apparent job skills. A woman without much of a life at all. Pippa's got her ya-yas, but where is her sisterhood?

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