Autodidact: self-taught


Puccini for Beginners

by V. L. Craven

I watched Puccini for Beginners at the weekend and it was a fun enough romp. New York was shot beautifully and the actors did a better job than what I was expecting–I don’t have high hopes for most lesbian-themed films, as they usually don’t have great budgets. Gretchen Mol was nice (this is the first thing I’ve seen her in–is it just me or does she look exactly like Kate Hudson?) as were the other two leads, Elizabeth Reaser and Justin Kirk.

The premise is a commitment-phobic lesbian (Reaser) is dumped by her heterosexual girlfriend (a Molly Parker look-a-like named Julianne Nicholson) and falls into bed with a man (Kirk). They have a relationship of sorts and have a rather ridiculous conversation about the differences between heterosexuals and homosexuals philosophies towards relationships. The friends of the lesbian-dating-a-man are two dimensional, but the actresses (Jennifer Dundas and Ute Lemper’s twin Tina Benko) do their best. And I know it seems like I’m saying everyone in this film looks like someone else, but that’s bound to happen, really. There are only so many ‘attractive’ faces in the world and a good number of them are on the screen–some of them are bound to resemble one another.

The thing about the film that’s stuck with me longest was the pronunciation of “Turandot” by Reaser within the first five minutes of the film. She pronounced it: TUR-in-dot. I thought it was a French name and therefore the ‘t’ would be silent. So I looked it up and the final answer is: Yay, I’m right. According to Puccini scholar Patrick Vincent Casali, Puccini never pronounced the ‘t’. Which totally kills the illusion that the character was supposed to be such an opera buff. Oh well. At least I learned something.

[Repost from now-defunct blog. Original post date: August 7, 2007]

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