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A Woody Allen-ish film that needs more of the caustic wit expected from the best New York rom coms. Read critic reviews

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Movie Info

When her inability to commit leads to a breakup with her girlfriend (Julianne Nicholson), opera-loving writer Allegra (Elizabeth Reaser) winds up in the bed of amiable professor Philip (Gretchen Mol). He is so smitten with Allegra that he dumps his lover, Grace (Justin Kirk), and convinces Allegra to continue their affair. When Allegra meets Grace, sparks fly, and she begins a parallel romance, unaware that her new lover is the woman Philip left to be with her.

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Critic Reviews for Puccini for Beginners

All Critics (64) | Top Critics (32) | Fresh (32) | Rotten (32)

  • Quote not available.

    September 7, 2011 | Rating: B- | Full Review…
  • Fresh Manhattan locations prove as photogenic as the leads, and the supporting actors -- especially Tina Benko as a glacial, impeccably dressed amazon -- don't miss a beat of Maggenti's snappy dialogue.

    December 17, 2007 | Full Review…
  • It's amiable enough but there's nothing on show to make it stand out from the average rom-com.

    October 26, 2007 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
  • [Actress] Reaser is no slouch in the emotionally befuddled whirlwind department. In the end, it's all la dolce vita no matter how you look at it.

    April 14, 2007 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
  • Reaser really doesn't stand a chance. She's plucky as heck, and you like her despite the script, but she can't save the movie.

    March 23, 2007 | Rating: C- | Full Review…
  • There is pleasure and even insight to be had in Puccini but it all feels second-hand, and therefore, of questionable provenance.

    March 23, 2007 | Rating: 2/4

Audience Reviews for Puccini for Beginners

  • Apr 25, 2012
    A lesbian on the rebound begins dating a man and a woman who have, unbeknownst to her, recently broken up. Most of this film clips by at a great pace, and some of Allegra's lines, like "Those who break up with me usually earn my life-long devotion," are quite funny. And the smart dialogue, especially by random strangers on the street a la Annie Hall, is a good reason to like this film. However, though I have no problem that the film eventually degrades into a basic tale about the need for commitment and emotional honesty, I don't think that Allegra emerges as a character who could learn that lesson or one deserving of the film's comic ending. Has she really learned enough, or doesn't life always tell us that we can only truly learn once everything is already gone? Overall, I didn't laugh at this comedy, but a little smile appeared once or twice.
    Jim H Super Reviewer
  • Jan 07, 2012
    Elizabeth Reaser is lovely, complicated, and adorably clueless. Aspects of this movie echo Annie Hall: random strangers doling out romantic advice, eccentric fantasy like the sentient answering machine. Insightful commentary on sexuality and gender.
    Alice S Super Reviewer
  • Aug 08, 2008
    Great movie!! Absolutely hilarious story plot. Intriguing. Here's a story of one woman who struggles to embrace relationship and commitment. Fearing those but wanting love and desire is one thing, but when she loses her girlfriend then she tries to find a semblance in replacing it in her life. Great cast- Gretchen Mol, Elizabeth Reaser, and Justin Kirk.
    Leo L Super Reviewer
  • Feb 06, 2007
    [font=Century Gothic]In "Puccini for Beginners", Allegra(Elizabeth Reaser), a writer, has just been dumped by her girlfriend, Samantha(Julianne Nicholson), for not being able to commit. At first, Allegra is depressed at being alone but soon meets Philip(Justin Kirk), a philosophy professor, at a party and feels attracted to him, even though she identifies as a lesbian and has not had sex with a man in a long time. And then she meets Grace(Gretchen Mol) at a screwball comedy festival...[/font] [font=Century Gothic][/font] [font=Century Gothic]Unbeknowst to Allegra, Philip and Grace have been together for six years.[/font] [font=Century Gothic][/font] [font=Century Gothic][/font] [font=Century Gothic]Written and directed by Maria Maggenti, "Puccini for Beginners" is an uneven attempt at screwball comedy despite a hopeful premise, set in an alternate New York City where everybody has cool jobs but never works, and the same five people just happen to run into each other repeatedly.(And I just want to point out that the staff of Cinema Village has never alerted me to the presence of cute blonde patrons...) To do a successful screwball comedy, you need the right touch and cast. Howard Hawks had it. Ms. Maggenti regrettably does not. I liked Elizabeth Reaser in "Saved" but here she makes for a poor lead.[/font]
    Walter M Super Reviewer

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