Friday, February 12, 2010

The Private Lives of Pippa Lee Opens Tonight

This film is a New York Times Critic's Pick starring Robin Penn Wright, Blake Lively and Alan Arkin. Summary: A move to a retirement community with her successful, much older husband triggers huge changes for a seemingly serene woman with a turbulent past.

From the NY Times review:
"Together Ms. Penn and Mr. Arkin create a portrait of a marriage in which you sense the intertwining crosscurrents of devotion, boredom, anger and gratitude. As the movie shows, the decision to settle is only the beginning of a new phase and can be undone. As people keep changing, stasis is the enemy. A happy ending is never guaranteed."

From an Interview with the Director, Rebecca Miller

She's the daughter of the great American playwright Arthur Miller and the Magnum photographer Inge Morath, and therefore it's no surprise that so much of her work is informed by questions of identity, or the desire to escape the past, and other people's definitions of you - and the impossibility of ever managing to.

"That's right," she says. "I think we all want to believe, especially Americans, that we are free to redefine ourselves, usually by moving to California. Changing it all. But I think, really, all the past is with us. Our parents are with us. Who we are. You can only escape so far. Pippa succeeds to a degree, she moves on to the next stage, but it's only to a degree."

In this Miller is a larger, starrier, more illustrious version of ourselves. She's like a metaphor for the rest of us, or an avatar, a more obvious version of the inescapability that we all have, as our parents' children and our partners' partner, I say to her, although it's the kind of question that she bats away, like an irritating fly.

"I am also so good at just ignoring things. And just, you know ... I find denial is very handy."

She does. She's incredibly articulate on the thorny subjects of parent-child relations, and how the self can be subsumed within marriage, but only with regard to her characters. Because when it comes to Rebecca Miller's parent-child relations or her marriage, you get only answers like the above. Because from being Arthur Miller's daughter, she became Daniel Day-Lewis's wife, and her books and her films and her interviews sometimes feel like an almost Darwinian struggle for survival; an attempt not to be suffocated by the people around her.

It's precisely the sort of struggle in which Pippa Lee, her eponymous heroine, is engaged. Read the full interview here.

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