Fast-Paised review: 'Puccini for Beginners'

EntertainmentMoviesMusical TheaterColleges and UniversitiesEducationMusic IndustryGretchen Mol

Recently dumped by her girlfriend, writer Allegra (Elizabeth Reaser) creates a love triangle of flexible sexuality by hooking up with college professor Philip (Justin Kirk) and aspiring glass blower Grace (Gretchen Mol). Things get sticky when Allegra discovers Philip and Grace used to date. Allegra also loves opera, and the movie is divided into "Prologue," "Act One," "Act Two," and so forth.

Big question: Does the world need another story of intellectual New Yorkers and their relationship problems?

Skip it: As if a movie about an opera-lover named Allegra weren't dopey enough ("allegro" is an Italian word regarding tempo, often used in opera, FYI), "Puccini for Beginners" pretty much epitomizes pseudo-intellectual. It's crammed with articulate, well-off literary types who never actually sound like they know what they're talking about.

Catch it: If you like ridiculous metaphors. At one point Allegra implies that her sexual confusion is a toss-up between preferring steak or salad. Classy!

Bottom line: "Puccini for Beginners" has less style and personality than "Sex and the City" and an even stronger notion that the world revolves around relationships. Never perceptive or funny or particularly heartfelt, the film is a comedy of errors with far more errors than comedy.

Bonus: Miss your college days? Apparently they never have to end, as Philip is an assistant professor at Columbia and still appears to live in a dumpy college dorm. Anyone in the mood for pizza?

Matt Pais is the metromix movies producer.

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'Puccini for Beginners'

Directed and written by Maria Maggenti; photographed by Mauricio Rubinstein; edited by Susan Graef; production designed by Aleta Shaffer; music by Puccini, others; produced by Eden H. Wurmfield, Gary Winick, Jake Abraham. A Strand Releasing release; opens Friday. Running time: 1:21. No MPAA rating (language, nudity, sensuality and sexual themes).

Allegra - Elizabeth Reaser

Philip - Justin Kirk

Grace - Gretchen Mol

Molly - Jennifer Dundas

Samantha - Julianne Nicholson

Nell - Tina Benko

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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