Saturday, April 26, 2008

DVD of the week

Evening Story: Just finished watching the independent drama Starting Out In The Evening (PG-13). The movie, based on the Brian Morton novel, tells the story of ailing writer Leonard Schiller (a revelatory Frank Langella) who is struggling to finish his latest novel. Enter Heather Wolfe (perfectly played by Lauren Ambrose) who is writing her master's thesis on Leonard.

As Leonard and Heather continue to meet to discuss Leonard's writing and what makes him tick, their relationship deepens way past the point of physical intimacy. The scenes with Langella and Ambrose crackle with energy.

The scenes with Leonard and Heather are juxtaposed with scenes of Leonard's daughter, Ariel (Lili Taylor), and her relationship issues.

The film is a quietly acted and nicely paced one in which the writing is refreshingly real. When this film came out last year, Langella was being touted as a shoo-in for an Academy Award nomination. The ballyhoo was well warranted but sadly he lost out on a nod. I can think of two reasons; one, the performance is not an over the top one. It's real and honest. Secondly, the movie was not widely seen nor was it widely released. Langella's performance is one of those performances that one only sees two or three times a year. Even compared to all of the other nominees in one year, only a few stand above the crowd and Langella's touching, emotional role is a breath of fresh air.

Rent this movie today. For an added layer, read the book first.

Bags of popcorn (out of 5): 4


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