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Evening (2007)

DVD Cover (Focus Features)
Director:
Lajos Koltai Lajos Koltai
Starring:
Claire Danes Claire Danes
Toni Collette Toni Collette
Vanessa Redgrave Vanessa Redgrave
Patrick Wilson Patrick Wilson
Hugh Dancy Hugh Dancy

6.5 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Genres: Drama, Melodrama, Period Film, Romantic Drama
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Review by bluemeanie
Added: October 13, 2007
Let's talk disappointment, shall we? For starters, I need to mention that "Evening" was probably my most anticipated film of 2007, on the whole. Due to circumstances beyond my control, I was unable to catch the film in theatres and had to then wait until it found its way to DVD. So, when my Netflix finally sent me "Evening", I was more than a little excited, despite the fact that the film underperformed at the box office and was, essentially, torn to shreds by critics everywhere. My motto has always been, "Never doubt the power of Meryl". I mean, this had to be good, right? It was based on a best-selling novel of the same name, with a screenplay by the same man who gave us the screenplays for "The Hours" and "A Home At the End of the World". And, lest we forget, it features one of the most intimidating casts of recent memory: Claire Danes, Toni Collette, Vanessa Redgrave, Patrick Wilson, Hugh Dancy, Natasha Richardson, Mamie Gummer, Eileen Atkins, Meryl Streep and Glenn Close. Phew. That's a lot of Oscars. With that kind of pedigree associated with the picture, odds would dictate that it would go on to become one of the best films of the year, garnering all sorts of awards attention when the time comes. Wrong, wrong, wrong. I don't know what happened to "Evening" from page to screen, but it was something terrible. In short, this might wind up on my list of the worst motion pictures of the entire year.

The film is, essentially, two films. One involved the old Ann (Vanessa Redgrave) as she lay on her death bed, surrounded by her daughters Nina (Toni Collette) and Constance (Natasha Richardson). The other is a flashback that involves the young Ann (Claire Danes) as she attends the wedding of her best friend Lila (Mamie Gummer), and is pursued by Lila's brother, Buddy (Hugh Dancy) and her friend Harris (Patrick Wilson), a doctor. While on her death bed, Ann is visited in fantasy and reality by The Night Nurse (Eileen Atkins), and eventually her old friend Lila (Meryl Streep) comes to see her too. Glenn Close co-stars as Lila's mother, Mrs. Wittenborn. The film goes back and forth between the present day scenes and the flashbacks, and the transition just don't work. The editing of this film is dreadful and the 'back and forth' rotation only makes the film more bothersome than anything else. "Evening" is about one woman, at the end of her life, reflecting back on the weekend that helped to shape her life. This would be all the more meaningful if we actually gave a damn about her character. Vanessa Redgrave really doesn't do much with the old Ann, and Claire Danes is pretty lame as the young Ann, crying just about every time we see her, and she is not a pretty crier. When you don't care for the lead in the film, that film will suffer.

But, there is so much more to dislike about this picture. There is such a thing as 'too much color'. I have never seen grass this green, an ocean this blue or a dress this red. And when they're all on screen at the same time, it's color overload. I assume they were using that for the flashback to help people distinguish the flashbacks from the present day, but it was just way too much. There is also not real connection between the characters. Ann and Harris are supposed to have this chemistry, and Patrick Wilson and Claire Danes look dead together. No emotion. Nothing. Patrick Wilson is as dull as cardboard in this role. There was also no real sisterly connection between Natasha Richardson and Toni Collette. Sure, they argue a lot and complain about each other's lives, but I never once felt they were sisters - merely actresses pretending to be sisters. I also had an enormous problem with the ending. Why? Because it accomplishes nothing. We know Buddy is going to have an accident very early on, and we actually care about his character, but the way it is handled is so lackluster, it takes away all potential emotional response, except when we get to see Glenn Close do the only acting they allow her to do in the entire film, which is nice. And what's with that overly-melodramatic music? It made my stomach cringe every time I heard it.

But, "Evening" is all about performances, right? In a perfect world, maybe. Claire Danes is just plain miscast as the young Ann. When she sings, I don't believe she's a singer. When she dances, I don't believe she's a dancer. When she cries, she looks like she's sucked the world's largest lemon and it is not becoming on her. Vanessa Redgrave really does nothing with the role of old Ann except show the world how well an Oscar winning actresses can fall asleep on camera. She kind of look like a crazy cat lady and has way too much energy to be that close to death. Natasha Richardson and Patrick Wilson are void of all energy in their respective roles, and that's really all to say about them. Mamie Gummer is a nice fresh face in the film, and she does fine with her role, as does her real life mother Meryl Streep, who can always bring up the curve. Glenn Close has such a small part and never really gets much acting to do, but when she gets some, she owns it. As for the standouts in the film, Hugh Dancy is probably the best because he has the most fun with his role. Everyone else seems bored and tired of the material. Hugh Dancy has fun with it and makes us like his character all the more. Eileen Atkins also has a nice turn as The Night Nurse, playing the role exactly how it needs to be played. The worst thing about the film is the lifeless Ebon Moss-Bachrach as Nina's boyfriend, Luc. Someone call the talent police, as soon as possible.

Why am I being so vicious with this film? Because there is no excuse. There is no excuse to have this kind of cast and this kind of crew and turn out such a disaster. Director Lajos Koltai makes his mainstream directorial debut with this film and he needs to stick with cinematography, because he couldn't direct traffic. I blame him, first and foremost, because this film is just poorly constructed and poorly executed. The actors had to have been shocked with how the film turned out. I don't see Meryl Streep signing on for this project if she could have forecasted how it was going to turn out in the end. Maybe she just really loved the book. "Evening" is boring, tired, cliched and one of the most unnecessarily bad movies in years. I also want to point out a scene towards the end of the film, where Claire Danes randomly bumps into Patrick Wilson in New York City, years later. Danes starts crying before she even sees Wilson. What?! You can see her come around the corner with tears in her eyes. That's how bad this film is. They didn't know how to edit that scene, they didn't know how to cast someone who could act that scene, and they didn't know they should have left that scene on the cutting room floor. There is no excuse for "Evening".

2/10.
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