Puccini for Beginners

In this love-crazed comedy, commitment-phobic lesbian Allegra (Elizabeth Reaser) is recovering from a breakup with her girlfriend when she starts to fall for a member of the opposite sex -- and now she's questioning her sexuality and her sanity. Philip (Justin Kirk) is the tidy professor who's romancing the ambivalent Allegra while she pursues Grace (Gretchen Mol), a straight woman who's recently become single.
HD Available
Netflix Rating: 3.0
Rotten Tomatoes: Rotten 50%
Critics' score: 50   Audience score: 47   Rotten Tomatoes page
Top Rotten Tomatoes Critics

Fresh Manhattan locations prove as photogenic as the leads, and the supporting actors -- especially Tina Benko as a glacial, impeccably dressed amazon -- don't miss a beat of Maggenti's snappy dialogue. full review

Andrea Gronvall, Chicago Reader

Reaser really doesn't stand a chance. She's plucky as heck, and you like her despite the script, but she can't save the movie. full review

Tom Long, Detroit News

There is pleasure and even insight to be had in Puccini but it all feels second-hand, and therefore, of questionable provenance. full review

Terry Lawson, Detroit Free Press

Puccini for Beginners doesn't quite make it as romantic comedy. Most of the elements are in place, but the characters seem too narcissistic to fall in love and too broad-brush to be authentic. full review

Amy Biancolli, Houston Chronicle

It's no fun to sit through the movie's retread Woody Allenisms, including postmodern repartee among the self-absorbed or giddily neurotic and passing strangers suddenly given to ironic Greek chorus-like commentary. full review

Desson Thomson, Washington Post

Puccini for Beginners is littered with witty dialogue, although some of it is so obviously scripted that it can become off-putting. full review

James Berardinelli, ReelViews

There's a drag on this film, and that's the character of the protagonist, Allegra. She's just not a nice person, which could have been OK, except it seems as though she's supposed to be. full review

Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle

It may not be the real world of New York, or even of most relationships, but it's worth a visit.

Steven Rea, Philadelphia Inquirer

Proving that a movie called Puccini For Beginners actually can be as deeply pretentious as its title implies, Puccini For Beginners attempts to pick up the torch once carried by Woody Allen for the romantic comedy of ideas.

Bruce Newman, San Jose Mercury News

The movie offers a charming view of a small-town Manhattan where strangers constantly give Allegra romantic advice. Though that device is a little too indebted to Woody Allen, at least Maggenti does Allen a lot better than Ed Burns. full review

Steve Murray, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Snappy repartee with the ring of real conversation is sustained through enough of Puccini for Beginners to make it a rarity.

Stephen Holden, New York Times

If Woody Allen were a young, attractive gay woman, he might make something like this, or so Maggenti hopes. But it would probably be funnier, and it would definitely cut deeper. full review

Ty Burr, Boston Globe

The filmmaker's niftiest trick is in making a group of neurotic, self-involved, overly verbal people so engaging. full review

Kevin Crust, Los Angeles Times

A sharp-witted romantic comedy that takes the old Woody Allen screwball style and mood and amusingly applies them to a story about tangled gay and straight relationships in modern Manhattan. full review

Michael Wilmington, Chicago Tribune

For fans desperate for a funny new romantic comedy, and willing to expand their definitions of just what a date movie might entail, Puccini for Beginners offers a good 101 introduction to the genre. full review

Stephen Whitty, Newark Star-Ledger

A number of scenes in the film are charming and engaging, with a genuinely unforced lightheartedness, and that takes more than a little expertise on the part of Ms. Maggenti, as well as her cast and other collaborators.

Andrew Sarris, New York Observer

Real pleasure comes in small, refreshing doses in Puccini for Beginners.

Rex Reed, New York Observer

Writer-director Maggenti turns in some smart dialogue and keeps things moving swiftly. full review

Lou Lumenick, New York Post

[Director] Maggenti offers a cute variation on the classic Hollywood 'comedy of remarriage.' full review

Bill Stamets, Chicago Sun-Times
full review by Entertainment Weekly, Entertainment Weekly
Similars Available on Instant
  • Release Year: 2006
  • MPAA Rating: NR
  • Runtime: 82 min
  • Available From: Dec 20, 2008
  • Queued by: 380 people
Directed By
Maria Maggenti
Elizabeth Reaser, Julianne Nicholson, Justin Kirk, Gretchen Mol

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