Starting Out in the Evening

2007

Action / Drama / Romance

1
Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 88% · 99 reviews
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright 70% · 2.5K ratings
IMDb Rating 6.9/10 10 3343 3.3K

Director

Top cast

Lauren Ambrose as Heather Wolfe
Jessica Hecht as Sandra Bennett
Lili Taylor as Ariel Schiller
Frank Langella as Leonard Schiller
720p.WEB 1080p.WEB
1015.35 MB
1280*720
English 2.0
PG-13
24 fps
1 hr 50 min
Seeds 8
2.04 GB
1920*1080
English 5.1
PG-13
24 fps
1 hr 50 min
Seeds 17

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by riid 7 / 10

Notes from 2007 TIFF

I saw this film at the 2007 Toronto International Film Festival.

Starting Out in the Evening is based on the novel by Brian Morton, and stars Frank Langella in an understated role as Leonard Schiller, a once great novelist and now-retired literary professor. His previous books now long out-of-print, Leonard is struggling to finish his latest novel, a decade and counting in the making. Further distracting him from his novel is his genial but occasionally strained relationship with his daughter Ariel (Lily Taylor), who is nearing 40 and wanting a baby, but stuck back in a relationship with her ex-boyfriend Casey (Adrian Lester), who is most decidedly against the idea.

Another complication comes in the form of a young grad student, Heather (Lauren Ambrose), who has made Leonard the subject of her master's thesis. Heather is determined to discover the overriding theme in Schiller's work, the early part of which inspired her to pursue her dreams in college. The conversations that Leonard and Heather have cover the gamut of literary criticism and the creative process, touching on issues such as whether an author's personal life should inform their work, and whether an author can be pigeonholed into a single thematic thread.

As Leonard becomes more invested in Heather, these themes end up leading all the characters reaching pivotal decisions in their lives, paralleling the thrust of Leonard's early work around personal freedom.

Langella gives a fine performance as Leonard, who sees his time running out, and wonders if he has enough time, energy, and creativity left to finish one last book. Lauren Ambrose leaves Six Feet Under behind her as Heather, a driven but self-centered woman who wants to fit Leonard's books into her own preconceived notions and feelings, dismissing as less important those that don't fit the mold.

Lily Taylor was great as Ariel, a woman wanting the closeness and depth of relationship that she can't get from her father, so much so that she is willing to subordinate her own wants and needs. Adrian Lester plays Casey as the exact opposite of Ariel, a man who enjoys his relationship with Ariel, but not at the expense of his own dreams. Ariel doesn't come across as a victim; there's a hint of strength under the surface. And Casey doesn't come across as a complete jerk; there's a genuine love there that he doesn't fully appreciate.

All-in-all, Starting Out in the Evening ends up the night as an enjoyable movie, with good performances all around.

Reviewed by gradyharp 10 / 10

'The Madness of Art'

STARTING OUT IN THE EVENING is a quietly moving work of art, a film adapted from Brian Morton's novel by screenwriters Fred Parnes and Andrew Wagner and directed by Andrew Wagner that dares to take us to the wall with decisions we make about how we conduct our lives and negotiate the changes that can either be stumbling blocks or stimuli for creative awareness, It has much to say about the creative process of writing, a theme upon which it first appears to be based, but it more importantly urges us to examine how we live - how we make use of this moment of time in which we inhabit a body in the universe.

Leonard Schiller (in an extraordinarily understated performance by Frank Langella) is an aging author, a man whose first two novels seem to set the literary world on fire, but whose next two novels languished on the shelves and slipped into the same plane of obscurity Schiller finds his life since the death of hi wife. He has a daughter Ariel (Lili Taylor in another richly hued performance) who is nearing age forty and is unable to bond permanently with a man because of her obsession with having children before her biological clock ticks past fertility. Into their lives comes Heather Wolfe (Lauren Ambrose), a bright young graduate student who has elected to write her master's thesis on the works of Leonard Schiller. Schiller is absorbed in writing what may be his last novel and can't be bothered with Heather's plea for a series of interviews. But curiosity intervenes and soon heather and Leonard are involved in the process of interviewing, a process which gradually builds into overtones of heather' physical as well as intellectual attraction to Leonard. Meanwhile Ariel observes the process that seems to be infusing life into her father and encourages her to exit her current relationship with Victor (Michael Cumpsty) and re-connect with the true love of her life Casey (Adrian Lester), a man she loves but who refuses to give her the children she so desperately wants. The manner in these characters interact and learn from each other the importance of sharing Life instead of obsessing with selfish goals brings the drama to a rather open-ended close, another factor that makes this story significantly better than most themes of May-December romance and unilateral coping with self centered directions.

The pleasures of this film are many, but among the finest is the quality of acting by Langella, Taylor, Ambrose, and Lester. In many ways the story is a parallax of views of life as art that subtly intertwine like a fine string quartet. Why this film was ignored by the Oscars only suggests that movies for the mind take second place to movies for the merriment of entertainment. For people who enjoy the challenge of a meaty story, this film is a must. Grady Harp

Reviewed by evanston_dad 8 / 10

The Film May Be Gloomy, But It's Not Depressing

Movies about literary people too often sound like books rather than movies. The way characters talk doesn't jive with the way people actually sound in real life. Dialogue sounds scripted, phrases and speeches are too well put together.

This is a trap "Starting Out in the Evening" doesn't avoid, but it's easy to overlook that minor flaw, as the rest of the film is intelligent and thoughtful. The main reason to watch is Frank Langella, playing Leonard Schiller, an aging novelist who the world has forgotten and who is tempted to hope that his name might be revived by an idolatrous grad student who wants to do her thesis on his work. The grad student (Lauren Ambrose) is pushy and rather unlikable, but it makes sense that Leonard would take to her, as only someone as pushy as she could break through his reclusive facade. The relationship these two embark upon is complicated to say the least, and both actors navigate the tricky terrain well.

A subplot involves Leonard's daughter (played by Lili Taylor, who it was a pleasure to see again) and her rekindled relationship with a man of whom Leonard does not approve (Adrian Lester).

"Starting Out in the Evening" is one of those ultra-sombre movies that takes place in the dead of winter, when everything is cold and dead, and in which the predominant color scheme is brown and gray. But the cast brings enough vitality to the film, and the screenplay is unpredictable enough, that the end product is engaging rather than depressing.

Grade: A-

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