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Puccini for Beginners | Review

Coming Out

Situational Comedy shows the best of both worlds.

Give or take a few, there are approximately 8 million people crammed in New York City and the chances of bedding the same person as your former, or current partner are mathematically slim. Defying the odds, writer/director Maria Maggenti’s “what if” romantic screwball scenario amusingly looks at two ways of having “girlfriend” problems or as some folks might describe as micro management issues. This quirky commentary on relationships will appeal to those looking for a continuation of the not so profound discussions had on television’s Sex in the City.

When it comes to relationship advice, pretty much everyone living in New York has an opinion. Puccini for Beginners has fun with matters of the heart and actors Elizabeth Reaser, Gretchen Mol and Justin Kirk offer a inoffensive characterizations in their three way game of tag. Whether short or long, the narrative focalizes on the bookends of relationships – here it’s about dumping the excess weight before getting into a real commitment.

Overall, Maggenti gets many parts of the formula right – the pacing is shrink-wrap to sustain the interest, the dialogue is appetizing in an intellectual Manhattan highbrow kind of manner, the narration and the comic timing are relatively witty and the digital look of the film is especially during day shoots is crisp thanks to the folks at InDigEnt co. Though the film never breaks out or away from a certain pre-ordained mold, and the cheekiness wears thin fairly quick, there is more potential for this film than the gay and lesbian film festival circuit – this rom com should appeal to those who find Woody Allen mid-70’s comedies stimulating.

Sundance 2006. Jan.24

Rating 3 stars

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Eric Lavallée is the founder, CEO, editor-in-chief, film journalist, and critic at IONCINEMA.com, established in 2000. A regular at Sundance, Cannes, and Venice, Eric holds a BFA in film studies from the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema. In 2013, he served on the narrative competition jury at the SXSW Film Festival. He was an associate producer on Mark Jackson’s "This Teacher" (2018 LA Film Festival, 2018 BFI London). In 2022, he was a New Flesh Juror for Best First Feature at the Fantasia International Film Festival. Current top films for 2023 include The Zone of Interest (Glazer), Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell (Pham Thien An), Totem (Lila Avilés), La Chimera (Alice Rohrwacher), All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt (Raven Jackson).

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