Carrie Pilby

500 Days Of Film Reviews Comedy, Carrie Pilby, Starring Bel Powley, Jason Ritter, Gabriel Byrne and Nathan Lane

A Harvard graduate at just 18, Carrie Pilby (Bel Powley)’s knowledge is as impressive as it is formidable. However, while she may be able to quote Camu and Kierkegaard and while she can communicate in French, Italian, Spanish, German, Latin and Ancient Greek, Carrie is unable to connect with the outside world - much less make a friend.


On the eve of Thanksgiving, during one of her regular sessions with therapist and family friend, Dr Petrov (Nathan Lane), Carrie is challenged to achieve a list of goals in order to find happiness by the end of the year. 

Is It Any Good?

There is a danger lurking within ‘quirky’ - it can all too easily become annoying. As a result, alarm bells rang at the description of ‘quirky’ Carrie Pilby. She’s precocious. She’s socially awkward. She’s in therapy. Oh my goodness, she’s going to be insufferable. 


However, thanks to a smart and funny script (by Kara Holden, adapted from the book by Caren Lissner) and an endearing and compelling performance from Bel Powley, nothing could have been further from the truth in Susan Johnson’s movie.  



While Carrie Pilby doesn’t exactly challenge its audience or even break new ground in the offbeat single gal genre, it does possess something rare in this category - heart. Even at her most exasperating, we care about Carrie. We want her to succeed, to cut back on her reading (even she admits that 17 books in one week is not normal behaviour), venture out and make friends.


Having skipped three school years, Carrie is just not equipped with the social skills necessary to cope with the outside world. Dr. Petrov (a warm and engaging performance from Nathan Lane) gives her this ‘bucket’ list as the first step in the often difficult process of coming of age.


However, we don’t want Carrie to come over all My Fair Lady and change who she is and, crucially, neither does this movie. We actually like Carrie’s quirkiness. As a result, Carrie Pilby is a charming watch - intelligent, funny and, ultimately, heartwarming. 


Random Observations

It took author Caren Lissner, 14 years of false starts to get her first novel adapted into a Netflix film. In a fascinating piece in The Atlantic, Lissner talks about her experience of the process:  


Have you seen Carrie Pilby? 


If you have, what did you think about this movie? Let me know in the comments section below or over on Facebook or Twitter (@500DaysOfFilm)!

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Jane Douglas-Jones
Jane Douglas-Jones



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