Movie Review: Carrie Pilby

I became aware of this Independant film via Twitter. I am a fan of Colin O’Donoghue, best known for portraying Captain Hook on the tv series Once Upon a Time. He plays Professor Harrison in the movie.

Last night I had the opportunity to watch this charming movie on Netflix.

Carrie Pilby stars Bel Powley, Nathan Lane, Gabriel Byrne, Colin O’Donoghue, Jason Ritter, William Moseley, Desmin Borges and Vanessa Bayer. Susan Johnson directed this comedy drama based on the novel written by Caren Lissner. The movie has a run time of 1 hour and 38 minutes.

Carrie Pilby (Powley) is a 19 year old Harvard graduate living on her own in New York City. Although she possesses a genius level intelligence, or perhaps because of it, life is challenging for her. She is unemployed, supported by her father (Byrne), who resides in London. Carrie spends her days isolated in her apartment, reading her beloved books. She prefers her own company, finding people to be immoral and preoccupied with relationships.

Mr. Pilby arranges a night time job for his daughter, proof reading legal documents, and sessions with his therapist friend, Dr. Petrov (Lane). In an attempt to get Carrie out of her apartment and more engaged with life, Dr. Petrov creates a to-do list for her. The list has six tasks:

• Make a friend

• Go on a date

• Get a pet

• Do something that she enjoyed as a child

• Spend New Year’s Eve with someone

• Read her favorite book again

Carrie reluctantly agrees to the list. She does get out of her apartment more, but with mixed, and often humorous, results. Her two co-workers, Tara (Bayer) and Douglas (Borges), become her friends. She arranges a date, through a personal ad, with Matt (Ritter), who turns out to be a young man wanting one last fling before getting married. And she finds being a gold fish owner to be more difficult than she imagined.

Doing something from her childhood reconnects her to a favorite drink. Her new friends invite her to hang out with them at a New Year’s Eve party. That just leaves reading her favorite book again. The problem with that item on the list is that she no longer has her favorite book in her possession. She loaned it to Professor Harrison (O’Donoghue), one of her instructors at Harvard. In a series of flashbacks, the relationship between the two, and its ultimate failure, is revealed.

The list is a challenge for Carrie. However, as she marks each task off, she uncovers the source of pain and isolation within herself. In this place of tender new awareness, she opens up to her musically gifted neighbor, Cy (Moseley). Carrie discovers that as flawed as people are, there is goodness within them too.

I loved this film that was equal parts quirky and funny and touching. It was fun to see Colin O’Donoghue in a different role. And Nathan Lane has such great timing and delivery of his lines. Bel Powley is new to me, and she portrayed Carrie brilliantly. With my tendency to seek out solitude, I could understand her character’s desire to isolate herself, as well as recognize the dangers of disconnection.

I was intrigued by the list Carrie’s therapist created for her to work through, to move her beyond her comfort zone. And I realized with a laugh that I do the same thing, in the form of games that I make up for myself. I am playing one this month with my 31 Inspiration Starters that challenge me. Perhaps we would all benefit from an occasional to-do list that pulls us out of the ruts we create through our habits.

Carrie Pilby is definitely a coming of age movie. But more than that, it reminded me to not get too comfortable with where I am in life. Toward the end of the movie, Carrie tells her father that at age 19, it is okay if she’s not all sorted out yet. I agree. Maybe even at age 29 or 39 or even 59, it is okay to still be figuring things out. I hope so. I’m not all sorted out either yet.

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