The Private Lives of Pippa Lee

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It might be difficult for people to get their heads around, possibly even infuriating. But in this sweaty mess of a menopausal anxiety drama (starring some normally fine actors), it’s Blake Lively who delivers the most gravitas. Lively is, of course, the swanning Serena of Gossip Girl; her role on that show has a limited range. Here, as the teenage version of an ill-defined blond train wreck, Lively is a fierce wonder: a self-described “fuckup” prancing through NYC’s Warholian art world, confidently flirting with lesbians (including a manic Julianne Moore) and unhappily resigning herself to a boring life.

Alas, writer-director Rebecca Miller has more fondness for Pippa’s caricaturish, speed-popping mom (Bello) and a brittle, fiftyish incarnation of the main character (Wright Penn) who slips into distracted fits of sleepwalking. It doesn’t help that Julie Christie played a similar lost-in-the-fog part so subtly in 2006’s Away from Her. The introduction of a cranky, egotistical husband (Arkin) and a soulful younger lover (Keanu Reeves) only emphasizes the shortcuts in this melodrama. Adult children and friends watch nervously as Pippa reclaims a measure of spunk; too bad it all feels like one of those pharmaceutical ads for longer, healthier lifestyles.—Joshua Rothkopf

Opens Fri.

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