They finish each other's sentences, dance like Fred and Ginger, and share the same downtown loft--the perfect couple? Not exactly. Gray and Sam, are a sister and brother so compatible and inseparable that people actually assume they are dating. Mortified, they both agree they must branch out and start searching for love. He'll look for a guy for her and she'll look for a gal for him.
The talented Jane Hawkins (Dreya Weber, Lovely & Amazing) was an impressive gymnast at the top of her game until a devastating injury ended her career. Now she pours the passion, strength ... See full summary »
David De Simone
Claude and Ellen are best friends who live in a not-so-nice area of New York. They're involved in the subculture of 90s youth, complete with drugs, live music, and homophobia. All is ... See full summary »
A 2008 romance film adapted from a same name novel about a London-based Jordanian of Palestinian descent, Tala, who is preparing for an elaborate wedding. A turn of events causes her to ... See full summary »
Annabelle is the wise-beyond-her-years newcomer to an exclusive Catholic girls school. Having been expelled from her first two schools she's bound to stir some trouble. Sparks fly between ... See full summary »
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
Written and directed by Maria Maggenti, "Puccini For Beginners" is a tres chic romantic comedy set in a movie-spawned Manhattan where virtually everyone we meet is Caucasian, trendily upscale and sexually conflicted.
The strained setup lands somewhere between a labored screwball sex farce and a recycled Woody Allen angst-fest: Allegra (Elizabeth Reaser) is an opera-loving, afraid-of-commitment lesbian who finds herself inadvertently and simultaneously dating both a man (Justin Kirk) and his longtime girlfriend (winningly played by Gretchen Mol). As Allegra bounces back and forth between her two oblivious paramours, the characters talk out the issues of their relationships as if they were channeling left-over bits from "Annie Hall" or "Manhattan."
"Puccini for Beginners" is one of those small-scale independent features that thinks it's being smarter and more insightful about romantic relationships than it really is. Actually, after all those really sharp Woody Allen exposes on the same subject, very little in this film feels like fresh observation. To be truthful, with the exception of Mol's winsome Grace, most of the characters here are more annoying than they are appealing. Not only are the plotting and much of the writing too cutesy by half, but so is Maggenti's directorial style, which relies heavily on smart-alecky narration, freeze-framing, and dopey fantasy sequences to generate laughs.
"Puccini for Beginners" offers a few genuinely funny moments within its blessedly short 81-minute running time, but throughout we're plagued by the nagging and irreverent suspicion that the film might have been more accurately entitled "Puccini for Idiots."
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