MONKEY REVIEW: Starting Out In The Evening

June 17, 2008

“It’s the madness of art.”

Excellent adaptation of Brian Norton’s novel about am aging, sickly New York City writer, Leonard Schiller (Frank Langella), who is approached by a young and attractive graduate student, Heather Wolfe (Lauren Ambrose), for help with her master thesis about his four previous out of print novels, with which she hopes to rekindle interest in his work. At the same time, Schiller’s daughter Ariel (Lili Taylor), who is approaching forty and desperate to have a child, is wrestling with her feelings for a past boyfriend, Casey (Adrian Lester), who has made it clear he does not want children. Directed by Andrew Wagner, working from a script by Wagner and Fred Parnes, Starting Out In The Evening is a finely observed and very well acted study of four characters that are collectively interesting enough to make a movie that’s mostly about people having conversations seem briskly paced, as you’ll actually be interested and invested in what happens to them. The movie is witty and involving, and succeeds both as an entertainment and as an earnest look at the relationship of art to its creator and its audience, as well as why artists continue to create when the interest in their art is small or almost non-existent. Starting Out In The Evening is one of the few films about the writing life I’ve seen that eschewed glamorizing and romanticizing its topic, and that I felt was instead truthful and realistic. Very much recommended.

MONKEY RATING: ONE MONKEY

(For a brief explanation of the Monkey Review rating system, click here.)

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