Starting Out in the Evening Reviews
His stroke near the end kinda ruins it.
The daughter's story may have been a little more interesting.
There is a wonderful contrast between Lenard's apartment and the outside world as well. The georgous reds, yellows and oranges of his apartment, saturated and bright, with the gloomy, desaturated blues and greys of the streets. I'm sure that someone more adept could come up with reasons for this, but the colouration is beautiful.
... as a 70-something novelist, a last vestige of the mid-Century Manhattan literary scene - when writers cut from Arthur Miller's cloth cloistered themselves in bookcase-clad apartments to pound out serious wordcraft on Smith-Coronas, lobbied the intelligentsia party/reading circuit, and made a pretty Ivy-League co-ed swoon at a book signing.
His best 1950ish work long out-of-print and his wife/Muse long passed away, Langella's been adrift for, and unchanged by, decades. Then suddenly his mortality, his emotional isolation from his daughter, his literary obscurity, and his perpetually unfinished novel. they all come a-knocking.
The film's a eulogy, not only for the protagonist, but also for his literary era. The film warns something of great value has been lost in its passing through continual contrast with the 'industry' of today - where 'literary books are tough sells,' English majors can't earn a living, 'celebrity confessionals and self-help books' are an easy buck, and a pretty Ivy-League co-ed (Ambrose) will smooze, scheme and play anyone to make her bones as a writer.
Ambrose is rediscovering Langella through her thesis and, through that insight, ensuring her own discovery as well. Her arrival, persistence and emotional manipulation force Langella to confront his demons far too long denied, force him to start out all over again in the evening of his life.
Langella's delivery, delicate & sympathetic treatment of May-December romance, tribute to a golden age of Western literature, and portrayal of life's end as beginning - all contribute to the powerful drama within this 2007 Sundance gem.
Forged out of an 18-day shoot, a $500,000 budget, and talent nearly donated to bring a worthy novel to film. Not the stuff of wide distribution, it all but went straight-to-video, where it will surely find strong following.