Starting Out in the Evening - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Starting Out in the Evening Reviews

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January 8, 2012
It's good. Don't watch it.
½ December 8, 2011
If you love good movies and love books and reading, this is the drama for you. Langela hasn't been better and Lauren Ambrose signals she's ready for the A-list. What a good movie.
½ December 2, 2011
Fine drama revolving around the relationship between an aged writer and a very young female 'fan'/critic. A little like Harold and Maude--they're such an unlikely pair. Also important though is the writer's daughter, played by Laure Nambrose, as she tries to figure out what next in her romantic life, as she approaches 40. Like everyone else I applaud the acting of Frank Langella (the writer), but the female leads are terrific too! I think the young girl, played by Lili Taylor, had an even more difficult role and played it perfectly. A soft-spoken, thoughtful film.
½ October 21, 2011
Frank Langella performs well as usual, story about and aging writer and young student - both seeking popularity and success.
September 26, 2011
great performance of Frank Langella and the rest of the casted characters... the story had more messages in our life than when it was presented. We all go through life the same as Leonard, only with different dept and meaning to us..
August 20, 2011
Leonard Schiller: "Freedom isn't the choice the world encourages. You have to wear a suit of armor to defend it."
½ August 13, 2011
Frank Langella is terrific here and the film is more or less carried by his performance as an aging writer. I wasn't always as impressed with the rest of the cast however and it felt like the script could have used some more polishing. However, Langella's performance is worth seeing this for and its not a bad film otherwise, just kind of decent.
June 15, 2011
A solid independent film
½ April 9, 2011
I loved this film. It was a raw, subtle film which left me somewhat sad, but again, somewhat hopeful. Of course Langella was superb, but so were his co-stars. Amazing performance from Ambrose...without her Langella 's role may not have seem as humane. Some have been critical of Taylor performance, however I feel that without her free spirted role and performance the film might have been slow and boring.
½ March 15, 2011
Acting is great, plot isn't as great.
February 28, 2011
Although it uses some improbable plotlines, it's an inspiring conversation starter.
½ January 30, 2011
Movies about the "creative process' are often pretentious and inaccessible for most people who aren't a part of the world that's being depicted, but this film is excellent at looking at the way words affect everyone regardless of who they are. Beautiful restrained performances from Lauren Ambrose (who should get way more work than she does), Lili Taylor (ditto) and Frank Langella are the foundation of this lovely character study that's well worth checking out.
½ January 14, 2011
The old man talked kind of how I think Sam Baden will talk when he's that age. Only Sam says he doesn't read or write. :(
December 12, 2010
His stroke near the end kinda ruins it.
The daughter's story may have been a little more interesting.
December 11, 2010
The performance from Frank Langella is the same as the film itself, introverted, understated and compleatly wonderful. He carries the film, painting an intimate portrait of a man who has lost all sense of purpose and drive. Lauren Ambrose plays perfectly next to him, bringing the same energy and enthusiasm to her role that she had in Six Feet Under, but with an added level of sophistication, and Lili Taylor is fabulous, giving a performance with just as much energy as Ambrose, but with more force and reality behind it. The contrast between between the women of the film and the men is striking. The women are full of energy and life, while the men are reserved and withdrawn. It's a beautiful contrast, brought out through an incredibly literary script, that still manages to flow through the diologue.

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.
November 19, 2010
A career-crowning slam-dunk performance by Langella ...

... 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.

Highly recommended.
½ October 27, 2010
Everyone is cast beautifully in this leisurely paced drama about an aging writer who meets a graduate student who makes him the subject of her thesis. Is she manipulating him with her youth, beauty and charm or truly inspired by his body of literary work? Frank Langella gives a perfectly restrained performance as he slowly succumbs to Lauren Ambrose's captivating ways. Lili Taylor hits the right notes as Langella's daughter, living in the shadow of her father's celebrity, yearning for a child while taking care of her father.
½ August 24, 2010
Great dialogue is perforated by horrible, life-altering pacing and limp subplots (Lili Taylor makes me slump over in despair).
½ August 20, 2010
So great to see Lauren Ambrose and Lili Taylor. I loved them in Six Feet Under. This movie is as slow as it is rewarding in the end. I loved how true to life it was.
August 14, 2010
The Madness of Starting Out in the Evening

In a world of celebrity confessions and self-help books, there's hardly any place for an old, white male writer who wears a suit while working at home and goes to bed early. It's the struggle between the passion of an artist and a world that has moved on and left his craft behind, and the unstoppable and tricky business of aging and coming to terms with oneself that director Andrew Wagner explores through his most recent film, Starting Out in the Evening.

The movie tells the heart-rending store of Leonard Schiller (Frank Langella), a seventy-something year old writer in his groping attempt to finish what could be the last novel of his now-forgotten, moderately-successful literary career. Until, of course, he meets Heather Wolfe (Lauren Ambrose), a young, ambitious and presumptuous graduate student who wishes to write her dissertation on him in hope of rescuing his work from obscurity and returning it to the bookstores, or so she says. Rather, Schiller's just her her ticket into New York's literary scene. Ironically enough, Heather might just be Schiller's ticket back into the world as an established writer.

Wolfe's cynical attitude rudely clashes with Schiller's kind disposition as she attempts to weave herself into his life, and one can't help but to be averse to her artificial smile and snotty remarks. She uses her youth and audacity to prey on Schiller's vulnerability as she tries to seduce him with an acting performance that's as underdeveloped and crass as her character. Who is this girl who's so forcefully preying into Leonard's humdrum routine? Her character exposition is at best full of clichés, making Heather appear as no more than a teenage girl with a crush. One never gets to know the woman behind her frivolity.

Instead, the film takes one through Leonard's daughter, Ariel (Lili Taylor), mid-life crisis as she deals with love's imperfections, an aging father, and womanhood's callings. At the heart of her troubles is Casey (Adrian Lester), an old boyfriend who's come back into her life after their relationship hit a wall years back. Old habits die hard though, and Casey's no exception as he keeps it "hot and light" with Ariel, unwilling to settle down and start a family as she wishes to.

Every other scene one finds Leonard admonishing Ariel against her commitment-phobe of a boyfriend and how she should be steering her life and not holding on to an ideal. Sure, this gives insight into Leonard the father, the man behind his books, but regrettably Taylor's and Lester's relationship lacked substance and conviction.

As Leonard so advices Heather in one occasion, "freedom isn't the choice the world encourages and one must wear a suit of armor to defend it," and this is exactly what the characters in the film strive for ? freedom to make choices, to live, to love.

Yet, despite of the shortcomings of its plot with its lack of texture and depth, Starting Out in the Evening is delightfully salvaged by Langella's master performance. It's no wonder he embodies Schiller's character so perfectly when, as an artist himself, Langella knows how to be patient in order to produce one's best work.

"An actor's life is waiting. And when you're not waiting, you have to sift through the things that come along. Sometimes you're quite lucky and a number of things come along all at once... and sometimes you go long, long times with very little to choose from. So you must take the thing that least bothers you so to speak," he confessed during an interview.

Certainly, one will not be bother by his character in this movie. On the contrary, one will fall in love with Leonard's tenderness, twinge with annoyance at Wolfe's unscrupulous comments, but most importantly feel his very ache, deception and doubt.

So what's an intelligent, literary movie to do in times like these? Well, to put it bluntly, it surely won't make a lot of money, but as one brilliant writer once said, "that's the madness of art."
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