Directed by: Lajos Koltai
Premise: While on her death bed, an elderly woman (Vanessa Redgrave) reflects on the wedding day of a close friend. At the same time, her daughters (Natasha Richardson and Toni Collette) come to terms with the impeding death of their mother while uncovering unknown details of her life.
What Works: The performances of Evening are very good. The film cuts between Ann coping with her illness in the present and her memories of the wedding night fifty years before. Claire Danes plays Ann in the past and she does a nice job with the material. Also good is Toni Collette as one of Ann’s daughters in the present tense. She has the most interesting role in the film since her character is given the greatest emotional arc.
What Doesn’t: Evening is a love story with high goals but suffers from shoddy execution. The structure of the film is awful, both in the editing between scenes and in the arrangement of those scenes. The transitions between the past and present are poorly handled and nothing cues the story to flip between the two different periods of time. Evening attempts to muddle the line between fact and memory, but this is mishandled with stupid fantasy sequences such as one involving Redgrave’s character chasing a butterfly through the house. Also, any film that flips between two time periods has to have a strong storytelling economy and Evening simply doesn’t have that. Scenes go by with little or nothing accomplished either for plot or for the character development. The film just chugs along, randomly alternating between the two periods, until it finally reaches a point where Evening uses a cheap and asinine storytelling cliché to resolve the love triangle. In the end, Evening reaches out for some big message to end the film on, but by then it’s too little, too late.
Bottom Line: Evening tries so hard make a important statement about love and life that it forgets the integrity of the story and the filmmaking craft. As a result, the film fails on both accounts. It is a sloppy film that is not much of a love story.
Episode: #151 (August 5, 2007)