Claire Danes, Vanessa Redgrave
Cannily marketed as a tender-hearted klatch of 'the greatest actresses of our time,â?� Evening
promises misty-eyed remembrances of loves long past, mistakes made, secrets kept and lots of happy, kissing people. In reality, however, the Susan Minot novel at the movie's core is less about romantic reflections and more about class drama, WASP-y constriction and spiritual decay; these guiding forces are difficult to squeeze into a 30-second trailer. Then again, Evening
is a powerfully affecting love story, told from the dream-bound perspective of bedridden, near-death Ann (Vanessa Redgrave), as her two daughters (Toni Collette, Natasha Richardson) watch and wonder what she's mumbling about. When the viewer sees the younger Ann (played by Claire Danes) visiting an old-money beach house to participate in her best friend's wedding, that's when Minot's class-driven barbs spike out. The contrasts between the vaguely beatnik but very bourgeois Ann, her blueblood hosts and, of course, the bootstrapping son-of-a-servant she ends up falling in love with are rendered magnificently by the screenplay, direction and, unsurprisingly, top-notch acting by the overstuffed marquee of talent. It's Danes' portrayal of the central role that is most impressive, perhaps due to diminished expectations of her ability to act with anything resembling a shade of gray. Evening
is all shades of gray, moving back and forth between the present and the past, between love and betrayal, joy and death â?¦ all those clichÃ©s that drive so many chick-flicks. When utilized in such a literary fashion by such a strong ensemble, those same elements are what make Evening
a substantial and engrossing film.