Cast: Claire Danes, Toni Collette, Vanessa Redgrave, Patrick Wilson, Hugh Dancy, Natasha Richardson, Mamie Gummer, Eileen Atkins, Meryl Streep and Glenn Close
Director: Lajos Koltai
Screenwriters: Susan Minot and Michael Cunningham
Producer: Jeffrey Sharp
Evening is a drama about an old woman who starts slipping into deathbed fever dreams about the great lost love of her life. It also stars practically every powerhouse actress ever-Mary Streep, Glen c;ose, Vaneesa redgerave, Tony collette, Natasha richarson and Claire danes. One would imagine that a script that succeeded in attracting such impressive women would be good. One would be wrong.
In this adaptation ofSusan minto’s book , ailing Ann Grant Lord (Redgrave) is tended by her daughters, happy homemaker Constance () and single screw-up Nina (Collette). But instead of focusing on them, she keeps getting pulled back into dreams of a weekend when she was a young girl (played by Danes) in the society wedding of her friend Lila Wittenborn . Between Lila’s cold feet, her brother Buddy’s ( alcoholic tantrums, and her mother’s (Close) cold perfectionism, Ann barely has time to fall for a young doctor named Harris Arden–the proverbial ‘one that got away.’
Sound like too much to swallow? It is. Anyone who has seen THE ENGLISH PATIENT knows that as unlikely as it sounds, a deathbed recollection movie (and book adaptation) can work when in the right hands. But Evening falls prey to the same trap that many Jihn Irvingnovels have succumbed to when made into movies (witness:The WorldAccording to Garp ,The Htel New Hampshare)–ambitious, generation-spanning stories with tons of fully-developed characters that make the stories so rich simply do not translate to film. It’s a shame, too, because Evening was adapted by Minot herself, along with the help of Michael cunningham, and the two have quite the pedigree. also wrote Steling beuty–a complicated script that worked. Cunningham wroteTHE HOURS (which was successfully adapted to screen by someone else), as well as A Home at the End of the world(which he unsuccessfully adapted himself). And sadly, Evening is far more like the latter than the former.
In short, the abundance of characters makes the movie a little hard to follow–as does its penchant for slipping back and forth into the past, present, and even imaginary present nearly constantly. But more importantly, the script is simply so saccharine as to be laughable.
It’s terrible shame to waste all the talent packed into Evening, but ultimately it is nothing more than an inflated Lifetime movie with excellent art direction (oh the costumes!). Resist the urge to be sucked in by the gimmick of having two sets of mothers and daughters all in one movie (Redgrave’s daughter is Richardson, and Streep and her daughter Mamie Gummer both play Lila Wittenborn at different ages), this is one melancholy melodrama that is best avoid