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Starting Out in the Evening 2007 PG-13 CC

Battling illness and unable to finish a novel that has taken him ten years to write, aging novelist Leonard Schiller is slipping into literary obscurity.

Frank Langella, Lauren Ambrose
1 hour, 50 minutes

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Product Details

Genres Drama, Romance
Director Andrew Wagner
Starring Frank Langella, Lauren Ambrose
Supporting actors Patti Perkins, Lili Taylor, Adrian Lester, Dennis Parlato, Jeff McCarthy, Michael Cumpsty, Jessica Hecht, Karl Bury, Sean T. Krishnan, Thomas Ryan, Anitha Gandhi, Joie Lee, John C. Havens, Joel West, Ali Reza, Jerry Walsh, Denise S. Anderson, John Auer
Studio Lionsgate
MPAA rating PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned)
Captions and subtitles English Details
Purchase rights Stream instantly and download to 2 locations Details
Format Amazon Video (streaming online video and digital download)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Grady Harp HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 27, 2008
Format: DVD
STARTING OUT IN THE EVENING is a quietly moving work of art, a film adapted from Brian Morton's novel by screenwriters Fred Parnes and and Andrew Wagner (who also directs) that dares to take us to the wall with decisions we make about how we conduct our lives and negotiate the changes that can either be stumbling blocks or stimuli for creative awareness, It has much to say about the creative process of writing, a theme upon which it first appears to be based, but it more importantly urges us to examine how we live - how we make use of this moment of time in which we inhabit a body in the universe.

Leonard Schiller (in an extraordinarily understated performance by Frank Langella) is an aging author, a man whose first two novels seem to set the literary world on fire, but whose next two novels languished on the shelves and slipped into the same plane of obscurity Schiller finds his life since the death of his wife. He has a daughter Ariel (Lili Taylor in another richly hued performance) who is nearing age forty and is unable to bond permanently with a man because of her obsession with having children before her biological clock ticks past fertility. Into their lives comes Heather Wolfe (Lauren Ambrose), a bright young graduate student who has elected to write her master's thesis on the works of Leonard Schiller. Schiller is absorbed in writing what may be his last novel and can't be bothered with Heather's plea for a series of interviews. But curiosity intervenes and soon Heather and Leonard are involved in the process of interviewing, a process which gradually builds into overtones of Heather's physical as well as intellectual attraction to Leonard.
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Let me state at the outset that this review concerns the theatrical release only. I have not read the book nor read any of the reviews for it. I caught this film just before it disappeared after a brief run at my local art cinema. Frank Langella deserves an Oscar nomination for his supremely restrained portrayal of a buttoned-up recluse, an emotionally remote retired professor and novelist, who has been working for years on what may well be his final novel, if he can ever finish it. It is not the first time this great actor has played a writer - for a spectacular contrast see his performance as the womanizing solipsist in `Diary of a Mad Housewife.' Here he is seduced by a flirtatiously manipulative grad student (Lauren Ambrose) into allowing her to enter his largely solitary life for the purpose of a series of increasingly pointed interviews that will help her complete the ambitious thesis she is writing about his work. So great is her apparent admiration for her `sad knight' that one wonders whether she is totally sincere, or deluding herself about him, as he may indeed be about both himself and her. But she is so flattering, intelligent, and attractive, and he is so kindly generous, that he cannot manage to oppose her when she persists. The ingredients at this point would make for a pretty good drama.Read more ›
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Format: DVD
Wow! What an outstanding bit of drama we've got here. STARTING OUT IN THE EVENING does such a fabulous job in using the medium of film to discuss and explore the medium of writing that I will never dismiss the craftsmanship it takes to compose a single book. This is a story that takes the ambitions of several characters, weaves them together in convincing fashion, and subtly sways into another realm of thinking. Does this intrigue you? Well, in case it doesn't, let me describe the first scene of the film to you.

A young woman sits in a small diner, waiting to meet the subject of her thesis. Heather Wolfe and Leonard Schiller sit together. Leonard almost immediately thanks her for her admiration of his work as a writer, but quickly dismisses her interest because he can't be bothered while he works on another book in his old age. The beautiful interviewer reluctantly agrees to his wishes, but only after being allowed to see his home, and borrow a few copies of his out-of-print books. Just before leaving his home, Heather suddenly kisses Leonard. It is not sexual, but a rather strange gesture of admiration. While the two are meeting this way, Leonard's hurried daughter Ariel is qickly dropping in and out of Leonard's apartment.

Once Heather and Ariel leave together, we are unsettled and riddled with questions. "Did that just happen?" Or better yet, "How exactly did that happen?" You will want to explore these questions for perhaps the same reason that Heather & Leonard continue the interview process together. They are fascinated by each other's point-of-view in writing; we are stunned by the subdued performances of Lauren Ambrose and Frank Langella, two of the best of their respective generations.
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