Puccini for Beginners

Film
2 out of 5 stars
BAKER'S DOZIN' Keaton sticks with the sticky-sweet.
BAKER’S DOZIN’ Keaton sticks with the sticky-sweet.

Time Out says

2 out of 5 stars

In 1995, Maria Maggenti’s charming first feature, The Incredibly True Adventure of Two Girls in Love, was released during the first wave of queer rom-coms. That same year, Maggenti wrote a first-person essay about falling for a man but keeping her sapphic identity intact. Two Girls in Love was the screen debut of Laurel Holloman, who, coincidentally, now stars as a woman in love with a man but who still thinks of herself as a lesbian on The L Word. The Showtime same-sex soap is namechecked, somewhat disparagingly, in Maggenti’s second outing, Puccini for Beginners, in which a lesbian writer (Reaser) has an affair with both a male philosophy professor (Kirk) and his investment banker ex-girlfriend (Mol).

Sexual identities and attractions may blur, but the rules of romantic comedies must be strictly followed. As in, the players in the love triangle should exhibit just the tiniest bit of sexual chemistry. Funny lines help too, not vibrator gags. The privileged, colossally self-absorbed leads suggest the musty influence of Woody Allen, but not even he would include misunderstandings involving Kant and cunt. And epilogues promising snuggly coupledom are not sweet, but narratively lazy. Even Kissing Jessica Stein showed more daring. (Opens Fri; Click here for venues.) — Melissa Anderson

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