From its literary origins through its evocative photography and exquisite production design to its award-winning crew and all-star cast, Evening is the kind of class act that Hollywood refers to as a ‘prestige picture’.
Adapted from Susan Minot’s novel by the author herself, and co-written by Michael Cunningham (writer of the novel The Hours), it’s directed by the veteran Hungarian cinematographer Lajos Koltai (who made his directing debut with Fateless), and the cast includes Claire Danes, Toni Collette and Glenn Close, and twin mother-daughter acts Vanessa Redgrave and Natasha Richardson, Meryl Streep and rising star Mamie Gummer.
Collette and Richardson play daughters to Redgrave’s elderly, dying mother, Ann Lord, whose deathbed murmur ‘Harris and I killed Buddy’ prompts a series of flashbacks to her youth in the 1950s. There, young Ann (Danes) attends the Rhode Island wedding of her blueblood friend Lila Wittenborn (Gummer), and while staying at her family’s summer cottage meets charming Dr Harris Arden (Patrick Wilson) and Lila’s manic-depressive brother Buddy (Hugh Dancy). What occurs between this quartet on the evening in question destroys Ann’s carefree innocence and sends her down a life-path that sees her aspiration to sing and a series of ill-advised marriages founder.
Cutting back and forth between the past and the present, Evening draws parallels between Ann’s life and those of her daughters, particularly Collette’s character, an unhappy, single woman and failed dancer. Handsomely mounted and nicely performed as the drama is, it nevertheless feels a bit forced, its lessons learned a tad obvious. Perhaps it’s a case of too much talent trying too hard.
General release from Fri 21 Sep.