Review by Jack Foley
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: One Weekend By The Sea – Remembering Evening – Featurette; Deleted Scenes; Adapting Evening; Trailer Reel.
HUNGARIAN director Lajos Koltai’s Evening boasts one of the best female ensemble casts in living memory and is based on a screenplay by Michael (The Hours) Cunningham but it remains a laboured, disappointing affair that’s devoid of any real emotional impact.
The film stars Vanessa Redgrave, Meryl Streep, Toni Collette, Claire Danes, Glenn Close and Natasha Richardson, as well as Patrick Wilson and Hugh Dancy – but it squanders the talents of just about everyone concerned.
The film begins as Ann Grant (Redgrave) lays dying at home and reflects on the defining romance of her youth, when in the 1950s she met and lost the man of her dreams, Harris (Wilson), during a high society wedding.
In the meantime, her two daughters (Collette and Richardson) spend time bickering about their relationship woes while tending to their sick mother and finding out about her life-changing indiscretion.
The flashbacks form the most compelling part of the story, chronicling the growing attraction between Ann (played by Danes) and Harris that comes at the expense of their relationship with Hugh Dancy’s equally smitten charmer.
But once revealed, the “romance” in question amounts to nothing more than a one-night stand and seems fairly forgettable in the grand scheme of things.
Toni Collette and Natasha Richardson are meanwhile left to lament their lot in life and contemplate the responsibility of relationships before a visit from Meryl Streep brings everyone together.
Koltai’s film looks great but is ill served by a flimsy story that simply cannot justify the wealth of talent attempting to lend it some poignancy. As a result, no one really shines and viewers are left to question what appealed to such an Oscar-calibre ensemble in the first place.
Redgrave, especially, manages more in her extended cameo in the similarly themed Atonement than she does in the whole movie here, while the likes of Glenn Close and Meryl Streep are horribly under-used. As a result, Evening feels like a very long night at the movies that’s best to avoid.
Running time: 117mins
UK DVD Release: February 18, 2008