The Private Lives of Pippa Lee may sounds like standard chick flick/lifetime movie stuff, but because of the strong cast and a few surprising twists, it rises above expectations for the genre. It is the kind of film that most critics desperately want to like. It focuses solely on a beautiful and exquisitely complicated woman (Robin Wright Penn) approaching her 50's, and it sports a great cast of big-name actors.
Pippa Lee (Penn), driven nearly crazy while a teenager by her neurotic mother (Maria Bello), finally runs away from home one day and dives straight into the netherworld of drugs and sex. Fed up with her decadent life, she meets Herb Lee (Alan Arkin), a suave publisher who's 30 years her senior, and they marry, have two kids, and live happily, if not ever after, at least for a good long while.
Now, some decades later, Herb's multiple heart attacks force the couple to sell their Manhattan apartment and move into a retirement community in Connecticut. Once Pippa meets bad-boy Chris (Keanu Reeves), however, she realises that she herself has no interest in retiring from anything.
The film's basic structure is to alternate between Pippa's present-day life as a suburban mum and her wild youth, but the transition are often awkward and the polar-opposite moods of each part tend to work against rather than reinforce each other.
The ultimate intent of the film seems to be to make some honest points about seeking one's own happiness rather than living for the sake of others, but it also wants to be outrageous and outrageously funny at the same time. Keanu Reeves has an appealing, low-key turn as the lost-soul son of Pippa's neighbor, and Blake Lively does a nice job as the young and wilder Pippa.The acting is top-notch, the direction is perky, the dialogues are quirky and a bit edgy, but overall it's frenetic and chaotic story about a fascinating woman.