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Awesome: 4.17%
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6 reviews, 12 user ratings

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by Elaine Perrone

"Why, Thank You, Yes...I Had a Perfectly Lovely Evening..."
4 stars

SCREENED AT THE 33RD ANNUAL SEATTLE INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL, JUNE 2007. Wafting dreamily between the present and the past, Evening is a rich tapestry woven out of the threads of love and friendship, memories and mistakes, guilt and regret, and life both celebrated and mourned. The woman at its heart is Ann Lord (Vanessa Redgrave), who, on her deathbed, slipping in and out of consciousness, recalls a life-altering weekend in Newport, Rhode Island, fifty years earlier.

On that fateful weekend Ann (Claire Danes), then a young singer living in New York’s Greenwich Village, has traveled to Newport to serve as maid of honor at the society wedding of her best friend from college, Lila Wittenborn (Mamie Gummer). More than a little out of her element in the fabulously appointed Wittenborn mansion, Ann is taken under the wing of Lila’s black sheep brother Buddy (Hugh Dancy), who dotes on her. When Buddy introduces her to Harris Arden (Patrick Wilson), a young doctor, Ann’s and Harris’s attraction to each other is immediately clear. At the same time, Lila is in the throes of pre-wedding jitters in anticipation of marriage to a man whose proposal she accepted as compromise, because her own love for Harris is not reciprocated. (There’s also a bit of subtext about Buddy’s attraction to Harris, motivated at least in part by Harris’s unsuitability in the eyes of the senior Wittenborns: He grew up as the son of one of the family’s servants.)

When, after the wedding, tragedy strikes, Ann makes what on her deathbed she would come to call her “first mistake,” a lasting symbol in her mind of what her life might have been, had she made a completely different choice.

In the present, Ann is looked after by her two daughters, who have a rather edgy relationship with each other. Constance (Natasha Richardson) is a married woman with two children of her own; Nina (Toni Collette), single and pregnant, has a lover but is conflicted about their relationship. When Ann murmurs the name “Harris,” whose existence neither Constance nor Nina was ever aware of, it opens the floodgates for all three women to re-examine the choices they have made throughout their lives.

When, at the end, Ann’s girlhood friend Lila (Meryl Streep) reappears after many years’ absence – in a lovely scene between Streep and Redgrave that mirrors an earlier one featuring Gummer and Danes as their younger selves – she comforts the dying woman by generously offering her a new perspective on the power of choices and how each might come to affect one’s life.

Claire Danes also has a sweet scene in which Ann serenades Lila at her wedding reception, joined onstage at the end of her solo by the smitten Harris, with whom she completes the piece as a duet.

…Which brings me to the dilemma of Patrick Wilson: With his bland, blond looks and unmemorable demeanor, I can’t for the life of me understand his casting as a man who would drive women to distraction and a man to his doom – a character who would, for one woman, become a lifelong obsession and a symbol of the happiness that she felt eluded her.

Rounding out the otherwise stellar cast are Eileen Atkins as Ann’s wise and compassionate nurse, and Glenn Close and Barry Bostwick as the elder Wittenborns. Close, in particular, seems to be having a gleeful time playing the haughty Lady of the Manor. When she visibly looks down her nose at Claire Danes’ Ann, one can almost hear the sniff and see the mental balloon over her head reading, “Not Our Kind, Dear.”

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=16173&reviewer=376
originally posted: 06/29/07 04:55:59
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User Comments

1/20/08 BS Cringe inducing -- especially Glenn Close's breakdown and Hugh Dancy's overacting 1 stars
9/30/07 Lumi Bad movie, GREAT review. I laughed my ass off, I read it twice, awesome dude! 1 stars
7/17/07 Steve Cohen For once the critics were right. Worst movie of year. Dance will get razzberry!! 1 stars
7/12/07 D It's like getting hit over the head with a bag of oranges 1 stars
7/07/07 Peter H Weak development. Ann's lifelong regret from one weekend with Harris, a plastic hunk? 2 stars
7/04/07 Jamie Collins Painfully lacking a plot! An experience in confusion and regret. 2 stars
7/03/07 Nancy Jones So glad I got to see it with my daughters! Shows how we make the best decisions we can! 5 stars
7/03/07 Nancy Jones So glad to have seen it with my daughters! Shows how we make the best decisions we can! 4 stars
7/03/07 Helen R. Robare I loved this film! Obviously the critics didn't which means it must be good right? 4 stars
7/02/07 laura bennett different 4 stars
7/02/07 Val I can't believe I wasted money on this! It was more of a COMEDY to me... 1 stars
6/29/07 Desiree Crawford great movie! 5 stars
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  29-Jun-2007 (PG-13)
  DVD: 25-Sep-2007



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