Stars, but no qual­ity

EVENING Di­rected by La­jos Koltai. Star­ring Claire Danes, Toni Col­lette, Vanessa Red­grave, Pa­trick Wil­son, Hugh Dancy, Natasha Richard­son, Eileen Atkins, Meryl Streep, Glenn Close, Barry Bost­wick 12A cert, lim re­lease, 117 min

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Film Reviews - DON­ALD CLARKE

AT SOME point in this ex­cru­ci­at­ingly mere­tri­cious adap­ta­tion of an ad­mired novel by Susan Minot, Vanessa Red­grave stops dy­ing for a mo­ment to de­liver one of sev­eral half-baked cliches on the in­con­ve­niences of mor­tal­ity. “Can you tell me where my life went?” she asks Eileen Atkins’s un­con­vinc­ing Ir­ish nurse.

“Where, in­deed?” the au­di­ence might echo. Last­ing two hours by the clock, but an aeon in the brain, Evening hun­grily sucks the vi­tal­ity out of you as it plods its weary way from nowhere to nowhere. De­liv­ered in small por­tions, it could of­fer the par­ents of hy­per­ac­tive chil­dren a safe al­ter­na­tive to Ri­talin.

Rem­i­nis­cent of cosier, less self-im­por­tant weepies such as How to Make an Amer­i­can Quilt, Evening, adapted flatly by The Hours au­thor Michael Cun­ning­ham, fo­cuses on the life and death of a wealthy wo­man, much of whose life has been spent in some blandly beau­ti­ful mar­itime cor­ner of New Eng­land.

Played in her dotage by Red­grave and in her youth by the strip of nerve tis­sue that is Claire Danes, Ann Grant is, it seems, trou­bled by hav­ing dal­lied too briefly with a man she could have loved. Af­ter some lurk­ing round the deathbed, we drift back in time to find the cal­low Anne trav­el­ling to her friend’s wed­ding, where she meets a drunken writer (Hugh Dancy) and an enor­mously tall doc­tor (Pa­trick Wil­son).

Sex­u­al­i­ties are ques­tioned, men psy­cho­anal­yse them­selves in ways men rarely do, kisses are stolen be­neath the moon­light and, grad­u­ally, we be­gin to un­der­stand why ev­ery­body is still so bloody mis­er­able 50 years later.

Rarely have so many tal­ented ac­tresses been quite so dull in the same pic­ture. La­jos Koltai, a tal­ented cin­e­matog­ra­pher, here di­rect­ing his sec­ond film, makes sure they stand, sit or lie in the ap­pro­pri­ate light, but nei­ther he nor Cun­ning­ham seems to have dis­cov­ered any per­son­al­i­ties for the per­form­ers to in­habit. Danes, Toni Col­lette, Natasha Richard­son, Meryl Streep and Glenn Close form an in­dis­tin­guish­able mass of whin­ers and mum­blers, each of whom seems fright­ened of tread­ing on the oth­ers’ metaphor­i­cal toes.

Only Red­grave, stub­bornly fly­ing the flag for old ham, man­ages to leave an im­pres­sion. The fact that she man­ages this with­out leav­ing her bed does not, how­ever, re­flect well on the other ac­tors.

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