Magazine article Variety

Carrie Pilby

Magazine article Variety

Carrie Pilby

Article excerpt

FILM REVIEW

Coarrie Pilby

Director: Susan Johnson

Cast: Bel Powley, Gabriel Byrne, Nathan Lane, Jason Ritter, Vanessa Bayer, Colin O'Donoghue, Desmin Borges, William Mosley

Caren Lissner's novel "Carrie Pilby" was first published in 2003 by a Harlequin subsidiary cashing in on the "chick lit" craze, then reprinted a few years later as a YA title - which explains its formulaic single-gal-in-thebig-city content, as well as the fact that its 19-year-old heroine's emotions seem more apt for early adolescence. This film adaptation, a first directorial feature for producer Susan Johnson, somewhat improves on the moderately successful, rather insipid book. Bel Powley, of last year's Sundance breakout "Diary of a Teenage Girl," certainly brings improved edginess and comic timing to the titular figure.

Even so, this is awfully soft stuff, its naval-gazing protagonist not nearly as unusual or delightful as we're meant to think despite the high IQ she can't stop referencing. Limply cute, with underdeveloped subplots and secondary characters, this sitcomish dramedy shares the source material's primary fault: For a story about a supposed genius, it's not all that clever or complicated.

Carrie (Powley) lives alone in Manhattan, without apparent friends or nearby family. Her biggest attachment is a grudgingly semi-professional one to therapist Dr. Petrov (Nathan Lane). He's also an old friend of her father (Gabriel Byrne), whom Carrie views as inattentive even beyond the fact that he inconveniently lives in London, where she was raised until her mother died some years go. Carrie was considered bright enough to skip three grades and start attending Harvard at age 14. But being a "freak" among older students only bolstered her somewhat snarky, misanthropic view. As did, ultimately, a seen-inflashbacks dalliance with a literature professor (Colin O'Donoghue) who turned out to be even creepier than his seduction of a then-16-year-old would suggest.

Now Carrie stays home reading most of the time, humbugging the majority of humanity she prefers not to deal with. But a couple factors force her horizons to widen a bit: Dr. Petrov gives her homework in the form of a to-do list that requires some basic social interaction ("Go on a date," "Make a friend," etc. …

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