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.
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Netflix Rating: 3.0
Rotten Tomatoes® Scores
Movie Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes®

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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.
Andrea Gronvall, Chicago Reader  full review
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.
Tom Long, Detroit News  full review
There is pleasure and even insight to be had in Puccini but it all feels second-hand, and therefore, of questionable provenance.
Terry Lawson, Detroit Free Press  full review
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.
Amy Biancolli, Houston Chronicle  full review
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.
Desson Thomson, Washington Post  full review
Puccini for Beginners is littered with witty dialogue, although some of it is so obviously scripted that it can become off-putting.
James Berardinelli, ReelViews  full review
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.
Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle  full review
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.
Steve Murray, Atlanta Journal-Constitution  full review
[Director] Maggenti offers a cute variation on the classic Hollywood 'comedy of remarriage.'
Bill Stamets, Chicago Sun-Times  full review
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.
Ty Burr, Boston Globe  full review
The filmmaker's niftiest trick is in making a group of neurotic, self-involved, overly verbal people so engaging.
Kevin Crust, Los Angeles Times  full review
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.
Michael Wilmington, Chicago Tribune  full review
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.
Stephen Whitty, Newark Star-Ledger  full review
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
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  • Release Year: 2006
  • MPAA Rating: NR
  • Runtime: 82 min
  • Available From: Dec 20, 2008
  • Queued by: 391 people
Directed By
Maria Maggenti
Elizabeth Reaser, Julianne Nicholson, Justin Kirk, Gretchen Mol

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