Evening: Even Claire Danes Can't Save Muddled Susan Minot Adaptation

Parked uneasily between sensitive indie and studio chick flick, Lajos Koltai's Evening makes star-studded hash of Susan Minot's beautifully written, if emotionally constricted, novel about a terminally ill New England woman trying to wrestle meaning out of the shards of her memories. Floating in and out of delirium and cared for by two troubled daughters played by unlikely siblings Natasha Richardson and Toni Collette, Ann Lord (Vanessa Redgrave, prone and wheezy) recalls an affair with Harris, a man she loved and lost long ago at the New England wedding of her best friend, Lila (Mamie Gummer). In the novel, the unspoken ghost in the room is Proust, with a dab of Virginia Woolf. Lost in translation aside from a few allusions to the condensing power of the mind, Evening boils down to a lot of flat back-and-forth between old Ann and young Ann (a frighteningly thin Claire Danes), screwing up her life in scenic Rhode Island. However ably played by the equally scenic Patrick Wilson, Harris is more studmuffin than madeleine, and screwy liberties taken by screenwriters Minot and Michael Cunningham tip the movie into farce, leaving us unsure whether Harris is Ann's great love or a complete waste of her time, and ours.

 
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