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Evening: Time to Sleep

I went into Evening really wanting — nay, expecting — to love it. Look at the cast of respected actresses in this film: Vanessa Redgrave, Meryl Streep, Glenn Close, Toni Collette... the list continues. I hunkered down in the theater, equipped with tissues, readying myself for some heartwarmth and perhaps a cathartic sob or two. What happened instead? I nearly fell asleep.

The story follows the dying Ann (Redgrave), who is beginning to lose her grasp on the difference between past and present. She mentally relives a period of her life that she never shared with her adult daughters Nina (Collette) and Constance (Natasha Richardson) — the time she fell in love with the same man (Patrick Wilson) her best friend Lila (Mamie Gummer/Meryl Streep) also loved. Some other stuff happens that's of consequence though we're not allowed to concentrate on it for long because the daughters' stories are also roped into Ann's story. It sort of has that Beaches friendship 'n death thing going on, but there's so much other clutter involved that it's ultimately unsatisfying. There's more to say, though, so

Swathed in the dusky colors of evening-time and employing adorable period costumes, the look and feel of the movie is luscious and pleasant. Some of the performances are excellent, especially given the sloppy script. Toni Collette, in particular, is a breath of fresh air every time she's onscreen, as usual. Vanessa Redgrave is given little to work with, and by midway through the film I had her pattern down: Lie in bed, babble incoherently about things we don't yet understand, drift off to sleep murmuring to self, repeat. Ann's story told in flashbacks with Danes playing the young Ann would have been quite interesting Danes played Ann with any shred of personality at all. Thus, I come to the greatest problem with this movie: Claire Danes.

As I've mentioned before, I actually like Claire Danes. I enjoyed her part in The Hours, found her pleasant to watch in Shopgirl, and of course she'll always have a special place in my heart as Angela Chase. So watching her fail in this film was disappointing. For a movie almost entirely about her character she doesn't manage to keep the audience's attention for more than a minute or so. Most of all, there is a massive disconnect between Vanessa Redgrave's characterization and Danes' lack thereof — not once did I believe the two women to be playing the same character. The resultant feeling is one of muddy confusion and irritation.

Everyone else is more intriguing to watch than Danes, and I was particularly mesmerized by the character of Lila. Lila in general seems more complex than Ann, but Mamie Gummer's performance as the young Lila is also more interesting than Danes'. And then there is Meryl Streep as the adult Lila, whose screen time is quite brief, but for the few minutes she's there she far outshines anything else in the movie. One gets the feeling watching Streep that she has all the world's wisdom in her possession, and is doling it out in tiny increments. I was left desperately craving more Streep, as she was the only truly great thing about the film. But alas, I only got more of Danes until, to my relief, the movie ended.


Join The Conversation
Melissa55 Melissa55 10 years
I'm lucky that the guy I'm dating is the manager of the theatre I saw Evening at, or I may have asked for my money back. As it was, I'm glad I didn't pay because it was SO disappointing. Hugh Dancey's character was the best one and they killed him off... LAME!
Padraigin Padraigin 10 years
Agree 100% with your review Buzz. My review stated the same disconnect as yours did. I felt like I was watching two movies trying desperately to become one and failing miserably. And Claire Danes was just she of the flat affect. Mamie Gummer, however, was a discovery, a revelation, and a joy to watch.
stephanie-plum stephanie-plum 10 years
was hugh dancy and the guy from phantom of the opera good? they were hot!
stephanie-plum stephanie-plum 10 years
i only saw the preview and thought it was going to be so good! i still might go see the movie though but thanks for the warning buzzsugar!
pepperatstate pepperatstate 10 years
I almost fell asleep in Pursuit of Happiness, it's like they use all the really good scenes in the movie as teasers then when you get to the movie the rest is sort of boring.....
czguest1 czguest1 10 years
I had wondered about this one because the clips they have been showing anytime Danes is on a talk show haven't looked so hot. I normally love her too! it was shopgirl that won me over
z0mbieFck z0mbieFck 10 years
i remember watching the preview when i went with a friend to go see Georgia Rule [I love me some Jane Fonda]...and after I was confused as to what it was exactly about.
mwmsjuly19 mwmsjuly19 10 years
Mamie Gummer is Meryl Streep's daughter. I bet they did do a great job playing the same person! I still have no desire to see this, however. Maybe when it hits HBO or Cinemax...
xo_verity xo_verity 10 years
Looks like I wont be seeing this movie!
pinkflats pinkflats 10 years
i was looking forward to watch this on theater, but with your review i don't think so; I don't want to fall asleep in the theaters. I will, however, definitely rent it just in case I do fall asleep I won't be awaken by someone poking me telling me the movie is done and the theater need to be cleaned up for the next show.
Autumn87 Autumn87 10 years
Awww, and I was soooo looking forward to this movie! :( I'll still probably rent it when it comes out on DVD.
Linda-McP Linda-McP 10 years
Thanks for a great, honest review, Buzz! Another critic that I read earlier in the day also was disappointed with Danes' performance. Like you, I enjoyed her as Angela Chase but I haven't really connected with her in most of her film roles. What a great cast, though; think I'll wait to rent this one.
DCStar DCStar 10 years
OH your review makes me think I'll wait to rent this, rather than see it in the theatre. I like Claire Danes too but I've always noticed her delivery is quite flat. I was hoping she'd shine in this starring role. That being said, hooray for Toni Collette, I've loved her since I saw her in Emma, ever since then I've followed her through all of her amazing characters. She is SO underappreciated, probably because she doesn't have your standard starlet beauty. Anyway, there's such a lack of good female characters in the movies, I am hoping I can still enjoy this film.
beingtazim beingtazim 10 years
thats so sad! I was looking forward to seeing that movie!
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