Tuesday, February 06, 2007

 

Must See Movie: ‘Puccini for Beginners’


A film I have been cheering for since last year’s Sundance Film Festival is “Puccini for Beginners,” a screwball comedy with a pansexual twist from the fertile mind of writer/director Maria Maggenti (“The Incredibly True Adventure of Two Girls in Love”).
Opera fan Allegra (Elizabeth Reaser) loves Samantha (Julianne Nicholson) but commitment issues bring their relationship to an end. Grace (Gretchen Mol) loves Philip (Justin Kirk) but like many young lovers, hearts and eyes wander elsewhere, in this case, on the pretty Allegra. Their romance playing field is New York City, the perfect locale for crazy love affairs and a supporting character in its own right. To Maggenti’s credit, their lives crisscross with the right amount of lunacy to make the funny endings believable. Adorable lead performances from Elizabeth Reaser and Gretchen Moll (pictured above) give the film its dizzy romantic flavor. After years scripting TV dramas (“Without a Trace”), Maggenti returns to the medium (feature film) and genre (romantic comedy) where she belongs. It’s a puzzle to me why “Puccini for Beginners” took so long to get into art-house theaters after audiences responded enthusiastically at Sundance. Still, it’s finally in theaters, just in time for a winter cold snap, offering audiences a chance to huddle together and warm up with communal laughter.

Puccini for Beginners premiered at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival and opened in New York City on February 2. Strand Releasing will open it in art house theaters across America throughout February and the spring.

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