Writer: Amanda LeongWriter Ratings:Overall: Cast: Plot: Effects:
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When Charles Foster Kane whispered the word "rosebud" seconds before his death, it sent the people around him into an investigating frenzy. Who was "rosebud"? What did "rosebud" mean to the newspaper magnate? Such was the premise of the 1941 classic "Citizen Kane".
In "Evening", the movie adaptation of Susan Minot's novel of the same title, we begin with Ann Lord, the dying protagonist blurting out in a state of semi-consciousness, "Where's Harris?" Her two daughters, Constance and Nina, are then left to put together the missing pieces of her life they never knew, and the flashbacks begin.
This, unfortunately, is where the similarities end between the "Citizen Kane" and this melodramatic effort by Lajos Koltai. Not every novel comes alive on the big screen, and "Evening" is one of those that do not.
For a story that spans decades with a great deal of romance and complex emotions, nearly two hours of screen time cannot compare with what a several-hundred-paged novel can cover. Anything more than two hours though, would be overkill for even the viewer with the sappiest taste in cinema. As a result, plenty of subplots, which would have been important to the big picture, remain briefly explored. This is not to say the film rushed through the story. On the contrary, it was paced rather slowly.
The character of Harris Arden is supposedly a charismatic young man whom everyone adores, but in the movie, it is not evident where Harris' charm lies. All that was presented by Patrick Wilson is a man who has so little to say, so much so that he comes across as reserved and almost aloof.
The film's narrative is split into the past and the present, and to its credit, the inter-weaving of both parts is seamless and appropriate. Viewers are also treated to some gorgeous shots of the countryside's lush greenery and awe-inspiring cliffs.
This production boasts a fabulous cast with big names such as Vanessa Redgrave, Meryl Streep and Glenn Close, and well-received contemporaries like Claire Danes and Toni Collette. It is a pity however, that Meryl Streep's character appears for only about ten minutes in the last part of the movie.
Vanessa Redgrave convincingly plays the part of an ailing woman reflecting on her life gone by, summing up her misfortunes and regrets while slipping in and out of consciousness. Claire Danes plays Ann Lord's younger self during the 50s, portraying a young woman of admirable strength and personality. There seems to be a missing link though, between Redgrave's character and Dane's character; they hardly feel like the same person, besides the obvious lack in physical resemblance. Perhaps this is to illustrate what time and age can do to a person.
Toni Collette transforms from her last major role as a suburban mother in "Little Miss Sunshine" to a disgruntled woman at crossroads of her life, and who seems to have a penchant for destroying every good thing that comes her way. In trying to understand her mother's life that was previously unknown to her, she is hoping for a revelation that could point her in the right way.
In its attempt to explore life, choices, fulfilment and closure, "Evening" offers plenty of emotions but insufficient depth, and its plot is sadly predictable, bordering on cliche.Cinema Online, 23 September 2008