Evening (review)

Bittersweet and deeply, achingly romantic, this perfect, perfect film — based on Susan Minot’s novel — enfolds regrets and memories and love and hope in the snug embrace of a story of how one moment can send us careening down a path we never expected. Ann (Vanessa Redgrave: Venus) is dying, and as she bobs in and out of consciousness she relates to her daughters (Natasha Richardson [The White Countess] and Toni Collette [Tsunami: The Aftermath]) a family tale they’ve never heard before, and aren’t even sure is actually true or just a product of Mom’s pain medication: the weekend during which young Ann (Claire Danes: The Family Stone) and Harris (Patrick Wilson: Running with Scissors), “her first mistake,” killed a man! Surely Mom doesn’t quite mean “kill,” like “murder”… right? But tragedy looms over the extensive flashback narrative that makes up most of the film, of the ritzy, jolly Newport wedding in the 1950s of Ann’s best friend, Lila (Mamie Gummer, Meryl Streep’s daughter; Streep [The Ant Bully] plays the same character half a century on). And when tragedy strikes, it has unexpected reprecussions that still resonate 50 years on. Extraordinary performances anchor this beautiful, emotionally lush drama, the second film (the first English-language one) from acclaimed cinematorgrapher turned director Lajos Koltai (Fateless). It’s one of the best films of the year so far.

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