Stand and stare in awe at the poster for Lajos Koltai's new film Evening. Look at that impressive cast list. Vanessa Redgrave! Meryl Streep! Glenn Close! Claire Danes! Toni Collette! All in the same movie!
It gets better: Redgrave gets to share a scene with her real-life daughter Natasha Richardson. And the mother/daughter goodness doesn't stop there: Streep plays a senior citizen who appears in flashback played by her real-life daughter, Mamie Gummer.
With that kind of star power and intrigue, it's likely that Evening will draw crowds of moviegoers with high expectations. But many will be disappointed.
Evening feels artificial from the very first shot. We see a young woman reclining peacefully on a boat, resting on placid Rhode Island waters against a vivid sunset. Some may find the image breathtakingly beautiful. But there's something strangely artificial about it. It's so picturesque, with that digitally manufactured sky and that woman so perfectly posed, that it feels sentimental and idealistic—the stuff of vacation-brochure photography.
In the same way, the rest of the movie is obsessed with wishful thinking. And thus, we're in for two hours of breakdowns due to life's disappointments. But those moviegoers who stop to think about the characters' choices will find it hard to pity them. They're all prisoners either of their own decisions, their adolescent urges, or their culture. "We are mysterious creatures," murmurs one old woman, reflecting on her life. The mystery, from where I sit, is this: What in the world does this movie want us to learn from these unhappy people?
There's "no such thing as a mistake," according to the film's appointed voice of wisdom. And yet, the film's 117 minutes are full of evidence that ...1
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