Puccini for Beginners

Synopsis: Allegra, an opera-loving writer in New York, eschews commitment, so her girlfriend, Samantha, leaves her. Allegra misses Sam, and resents the accusation that she's afraid to say "I love you," but she's soon involved with two people - Grace and Philip - who, unbeknownst to her, have just broken up with each other. Allegra juggles the two affairs, telling neither about the other; each likes her more and more as her old fears start making her itchy. Things come to a head at an engagement party where Allegra is pinch-hitting as a catering assistant.
Genre: Comedy, Romance
Director(s): Maria Maggenti
Production: Strand Releasing
  1 win & 1 nomination.
Rotten Tomatoes:
82 min


How...how do you know her?

That's my girlfriend!

Your what?!

There are two kinds of people

in the world...

the kind who feel with their hearts,

and the kind who feel with their heads.

I was the head-feeling kind,

that's how I got into this mess.

See, I was her girlfriend...

but I was also his girlfriend.

Like everything in my life,

it started with two things:

opera, and me breaking

someone's heart.

This whole exoticizing of the "Orient"

really gets on my nerves.

If the Met thinks this is worth $200 a ticket,

they are sorely mistaken.

Stay awake! Stay awake!

This is Act III... I think.

It's so great! All of us here together

enjoying opera.

I'm so happy right now.

It's mysoginist...

and feminist at the same time.

That's the incredible

thing about it.

I'm not saying Puccini himself

was a feminist or anything, but...

He certainly was not a feminist.

That is funny, Puccini is a feminist!

It's the tension between Turandot's

desire to avenge

the rape of her foremother,

and also to give in to love!

Against her deep fears!

That's the brilliant contradiction,

that's what makes

the piece so compelling!

Allegra...need I remind you that

Calf basically rapes her?

No, he does not rape her!

He does not, he loves her!

He loves her and she cries

for the first time.

Rainbows, and puppy dogs, and lollypops!


You defend bad behavior

more than anyone

- I've ever met in my life.

- Someone I know used to like my bad behavior.

They've only been dating three months,

and Nell already wants to move in with her.

They're in love. Why are you making it

sound so pathological?

Because it's pathological to become

attached to the hip after three months.

I like Vivian. She's much better

than Nell's last girlfriend.

- What was her name?

- Flavia.


Right, right, right.

Flavia, Flavia...

Why do you still have your coat on?

I'm not staying.

Oh, come on sweetie! Please,

let's not have this fight again.

Allegra we have to break up.

- What?!

- Yeah.

When was the last time we did anything

together, and not end up in a fight?

- When we have sex.

- No, aside from that! Let's face it, OK?

I hate opera, and I have to look up

half the words that you use, and...

I'm...not a lesbian.

- OK, I just have to tell you one thing.

- What?

- I have a boyfriend.

- What?

- Yeah, I have a boyfriend.

- I don't care.

I can't believe you want to break up

over some stupid little detail

like who's a lesbian and who isn't!

- I saw Jeff.

- What?

Alriiiiiight! I win that one buddy!

He's going to Saint Barts on business

and he wants me to go with him.

Noone goes to Saint Barts

on business, Sam.

He loves me.

Are you saying that...

- You sure you'll use that?

- It's mine.

You're saying that I don't love you?

Well, you know, if you do

you haven't said so.

She's right.

I haven't said "I love you",

but I have a perfectly

logical explanation for it.

I'm only...

I'm still getting to know you.

It's only been nine months!

You can't just love

a person out of the blue.

You know what your problem is?

You're conflicted. Excuse me.

I'm conf...you...you want

to be Jeff's girlfriend

who occasionally sleeps with lesbians,

and you call me conflicted?

I would hardly call being

with you day and night

for six months...ocassional.

Look. Is it the lesbian thing?

Or is it me? Or what?

Can you shut the door, please?

- I wanna know.

- I've already told you.

Tell her again.

Allegra...I'm not a lesbian

and you're not

the right woman for me anyway.

Doesn't anyone realize that

love is a smoke screen

to keep us from facing

the real issues of the world?

Global warming, poverty, famine,

floods, tornadoes, tsunamis, real estate

development...gated communities?

Studies show that being in

a long-term committed

relationship is good for you!

It can even make you live longer.

Who wants to live longer?

I hate being alone.

I'm not the kind of person

who should be by herself!

I was made to be in a relationship.

I'm smart...


I published a novel once!

I have a rent stabilized apartment!

I'm narcissistic, passive aggressive,

self absorbed,

and incapable of connecting.

That's it.

From now on,

I'm just gonna be by myself.

The woman voted Republican, that's

when you should have been worried.

I saw it as a challenge.

You always go for all the straight girls,

except for me of course.

How come you never

made a pass at me?

You're right, we're too close.

It would be weird, we've been

best friends for so long, right?

We love each other

enough as it is, don't you think?

I really, really loved being with her.

She's smart, warm, affectionate...

You are gonna meet someone

tonight at this party, that's what.

No. You'll meet someone, Molly.

I hate parties.

Wear that. That looks cute.

You like it? I think

it makes me look a little fat...

Female opression is showing,

but aside from that...you look good.

Allegra, it's time

to reinvent yourself, sweetie.

I need to get some food.

I need some chocolate.

No, don't binge now!

Wait for the party!

Just wait, I'm almost read...

That does look kinda cute, I think.

God! This is fantastic, isn't it?

This kind of view?

It makes you fall in love

with the city all over again.

You think so?

Makes me wanna jump.

Maybe you should take

your sunglasses off.

- I can't, I'm blind.

Rate this script:5.0 / 1 vote

Maria Maggenti

Maria Maggenti (born c. 1962) is an American film director and screenwriter for film and television, who has traditionally created independent films. She was the script editor for the American television series, Without a Trace (2003) and has written many episodes for the show as well, but is perhaps best known for her feature film, The Incredibly True Adventure of Two Girls in Love (1995). Her film Puccini for Beginners was in competition at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2006. She was also an activist with ACT UP for many years. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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