Puccini for Beginners is a witty romantic comedy that borrows heavily from the Woody Allen-type, offbeat humor. The title speaks to the fact that the main character, Allegra, (Elizabeth Reaser) is a lesbian opera fan who finds herself getting into overly dramatic situations that are commonplace in opera.
Allegra, whose girlfriend had recently broke up with her due to Allegra’s unwillingness to commit, is depressed until she ends up spending an evening with a man named Philip, (Justin Kirk). She and Philip surprisingly hit it off immediately, and he drives her into a sexual identity crisis. She also happens to meet a girl named Grace, (Gretchen Mol) to whom she finds herself attracted. She starts seeing them both, and if that wasn’t enough, the kicker is that Grace and Philip are recent ex’s.
The movie starts with the ending scene, and the rest is a re-telling of the story with a narrative by Allegra. Even though we already know what will happen in the end, the journey is an entertaining trail of situational comedy supported by a well-written script. Through the telling of the story, we find out what is going on long before any of the characters find out, which makes for some entertaining encounters and humorous stories.
Another great point to the movie is that the minor characters are absolutely hilarious. These characters include the sushi chefs at Allegra’s favorite restaurant, who would give their input on the situation in Japanese while looking in on the situation, as well as Allegra’s friends who, with their quick humor, manage to make every situation into an enjoyable time.
One problem with the film is that the main characters are very shallow. Not much is done to develop them and because of this, it’s hard to feel sympathetic for their situations. The good thing about this, however, is that it’s very easy to find humor in their misfortunes. Because of the lack of character development, Puccini for Beginners feels like a sitcom where instead of focusing on characters, every scene tries to milk out as many laughs as possible. Fortunately, the film is very good at this and will keep you laughing.
It is very easy to recommend people to see Puccini for Beginners. This romantic comedy will keep you laughing from beginning to end with its sharp humor. If you are a Woody Allen fan it really is a must see. However, Woody fan or not; see this movie and enjoy.