'Puccini for Beginners'

One friend short of a forming a lesbian repertory staging of Sex and the City, Allegra (Elizabeth Reaser) does not lack for a sounding board when she replaces one lover with two: straight girl Grace (Gretchen Mol) and Columbia prof Philip (Justin Kirk). A Woody Allen devotee, writer-director Maria Maggenti hawks an insular view of New York City where poverty doesn't exist to illuminate the grotesque solipsism of her characters. The sensitivity of this artless production is such that every peripheral character is available only to flatter the egos of the story's power dykes, who, given the dimensions of their living quarters, have some nerve accusing each other of being bourgeois. Buying time until Allegra's two-timing is revealed, Maggenti suffocates her story with dated references to every buzzword from Laura Mulvey's feminist catalog except for "the male gaze.". In short, a nightmare worse than Trust the Man.

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