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Allegra, an opera-loving writer in New York, eschews commitment, so her girlfriend, Samantha, leaves her. Allegra misses Sam, and resents the accusation that she's afraid to say "I love you," but she's soon involved with two people - Grace and Philip - who, unbeknownst to her, have just broken up with each other. Allegra juggles the two affairs, telling neither about the other; each likes her more and more as her old fears start making her itchy. Things come to a head at an engagement party where Allegra is pinch-hitting as a catering assistant. Written by
Philip's clothing changes three times during his date to the opera with Allegra. When they leave for the opera, he is seen wearing jeans, a sweater and a suit jacket. Immediately after the opera, he is wearing a button-up shirt and khakis instead of his sweater and jeans. During dinner, Philip is seen wearing the sweater with the khakis while his jacket is hanging over the back of his chair. See more »
"Puccini for Beginners" is yet another independent relationship comedy. I remember a long line of them coming out probably around the same time this one did. We have love triangles and writers waxing on neurotically about love and relationships.
The lead is a writer, a lesbian who is unable to admit her true feelings, and she goes from a break up to a man. He's a philosophy professor who loves everything about her that it doesn't matter that she's a lesbian. In addition to their differences in sexual orientation, there are other love entanglements that get in their way - "with all the twists and turns of a classic Puccini" as the DVD case says. I would agree with that if the twists and turns in Puccini operas are obvious and uninspired with contrived culminations.
I enjoyed the casting, Elizabeth Reaser has a fresh face and isn't your typical romantic comedy lead. I fell in love with Justin Kirk as Andy Botwin in "Weeds" and I fell in love with him again here. The actresses who play her friends actually look like regular friends. But the cast wasn't able to save the characters. We have a lesbian with the prosaic name of Allegra, a writer whose neurotic, and a philosophy professor who pontificated on her vocabulary and the virtues of love and relationships. And none of them had interesting character traits.
The characters, the love triangles and the imperious dialogue were all flat. And the references to Puccini? Allegra likes going to the opera. So does Philip. I think that sums up all the imaginative aspects of "Puccini for Beginners".
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