Revealing her ‘Private Lives’
Robin Wright Penn is the titular character in Rebecca Miller’s domestic drama “The Private Lives of Pippa Lee,” which hits theaters tomorrow. In it, Penn plays the young wife of an aging writer (Alan Arkin) whom she met when he was a middle-aged Lothario and she was a troubled teen deep into sex, drugs and rebellion.
We meet Pippa 20 years on, in a retirement community deep in the suburban heart of Connecticut. Pippa has morphed from wild child to wife and mother to caretaker, but seems too passive to mind.
Familiar old feelings are stirred when the son of a neighbor, played by Keanu Reeves, arrives back home. Eventually the pair embarks on an affair that culminates with a tryst in a truck, the toughest scene for Wright Penn to shoot.
“Having an orgasm!” the actress exclaims of the demands of her director for the scene. “Thank God it’s short, right?” she adds. “But Rebecca ... was like, ‘I really want this to be real-time.’ That was almost impossible to do.”
But the intricate layers of Pippa and the way Miller allows them to unfold onscreen were major factors in Wright Penn’s enjoyment of the film.
“She thinks like a man, she tells a story like a man, and that’s not being biased against women in any way,” Wright Penn says of Miller. “She cuts to the chase, and I respond to that in a person.”