Not Quite a Good Evening

Natasha Richardson, Vanessa Redgrave and Toni Collette in Evening (2007)

As Ann lies on her death bed knowing her time is soon to come her mind wanders back to the weekend when her friend Lila got married. It is the weekend where she met Harris the handsome friend of Lila's family especially her brother Buddy. But it is a weekend which haunts Ann all these years later because of what happened and what might have been. As Ann lays there flicking between the past and present her two very opposite daughters Nina and Constance sit by her side with their own issues to deal with but also a curiosity as they hear their mother call out for Harris.

"Help, let me out", no that wasn't my cry for help as I sat watching "Evening" but more because of the good movie which is in there struggling to get out. It makes "Evening" a frustrating movie because it is full of talent in front of the camera, talent behind the camera and a pleasant nostalgic romantic tale remembered by a woman on her death bed drifting between the then and the now. But that story which could have been completely beautiful in every way gets lost in the midst of other things as we chop from the past to the present and back again whilst the dying woman's own daughters have issues on their minds.

Claire Danes and Patrick Wilson in Evening (2007)

There are a variety of positives to "Evening" most noticeably the brilliant cinematography of Gyula Pados and direction of Lajos Koltai who thanks to their eye for a good shot make it visually arresting. Whether you are in the past and Ann's memories of the weekend she met her first true love or in the present as Nina toils with the issue weighing heavy on her it is beautiful. Add to that great costumes, location and soundtrack and on a simple visual level "Evening" is wonderful. I did say simple because whilst some of the fantasy moments are visually brilliant they end up distracting from the story.

Then there is the casting and I don't have a single complaint because whilst Vanessa Redgrave is perfect as the elderly Ann, Claire Danes is just as perfect as the younger version. Every single actor and actress deliver character and more importantly work well together be it Hugh Dancy and Claire Danes or Toni Collette and Ebon Moss-Bachrach. And there is a lot of talent in "Evening" with a collection of actresses including some mothers & daughters such as Meryl Streep and her daughter Mamie Gummer who all shine.

But here is my issue and it is for me a big issue because at the centre of "Evening" is Ann remembering the weekend when not only did she meet and fall in love with Harris but events transpired to change relationships for ever. And this story is lovely as it has romance and drama with a couple of playful twists thrown in for good measure. But the delivery of it spoils it because we go from the past to the present to Ann having a fantasy moment as her nurse suddenly appears all dressed up and then there are the issues that her daughters are facing which often work as a distraction. It is a shame because if only they had simplified things and just focussed on Ann reminiscing about her past as she fades away it would have been less original but superior for being so.

What this all boils down to is that in the end "Evening" ended up being a disappointment because the potential to be really good is there it just gets lost in a muddled narrative.

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