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Genre Drama
Year: 2007

Evening is beautifully filmed by Oscar-nominated cinematographer and director, Lajos Koltai. The movie is an adaptation of Susan Minot’s novel and tells the romantic past and emotional present of a woman in her last days. Ann Grant (Redgrave) recalls a turning point in her life 50 years earlier from her deathbed as her daughters try to make sense of their lives. It’s a drama that combines what could be two separate films to tell of one woman’s regrets and desires. The ensemble is dominated by some of the best actresses in Hollywood today and also showcases some rising stars in actors Hugh Dancy (The Jane Austen Book Club), Ebon Moss-Bachrach (The Lake House) and Patrick Wilson (Little Children).

Evening is an emotional journey that comes across as a mixture of Jane Austen and The Great Gatsby. The aristocratic and pretentious lifestyle of the Wittenborns is where the memories take place. Ann Grant is the maid of honour and gets caught up in a series of disappointments, which leave her feeling guilt and remorse.

Evening is bolstered by beautiful cinematics, a knock-out ensemble and a great story. However, the film is diluted by plot holes and doesn’t seem to have the freedom to create the sprawling romance drama it wants to be. The performances are strong as you’d expect from such big name actresses and talented actors, but it loses something in the translation. The values do not seem to be in-synch with Jane Austen’s sensibiltiies, and the story memories have a modern sting in their tail. This does make the whole journey more real in comparison with most Hollywood romance stories, but the characters and developments that hinge on convenience. These conveniences help to draw the film to a conclusion with some resolve, although the underlying message is vague.

Evening seems to reach into different genres for momentum before pulling back to the drama nucleus. A wrongful death, fantastic visions, period piece sets and suspenseful build-ups pepper the narrative. These devices limit consistency and are even more distracting than Claire Danes and her bobble-head. The characters skim across the surface of things and are too varied for one to establish any form of identity with them. The movie is intent on balancing past and present and this doesn’t allow either setting to take the reins. The constant feeling of displacement alienates the audience, and intimacy evaporates. This leaves no room for real involvement and the suspended reality is just out of arm’s reach.

Evening doesn’t have the romance of a Jane Austen book and tends to wallow in a range of emotions for the duration. The cast warrant your attention and are the backbone to the production. Without them, Evening would be a sad, wistful and cynical collection of memoirs with a false sense of redemption.

The bottom line: Withering.

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