Female viewers over 40 have become an underserved demographic, but Hollywood throws them a bone with Evening, the type of unapologetic weepie that used to get made regularly, but hasn't materialized as much since the 1990s. The genre clearly hasn't lost its credibility with actresses, as a talented selection of them turn up here -- Vanessa Redgrave, Glenn Close, Meryl Streep, Toni Collette, and Claire Danes, to name just a few. Acclaimed cinematographer Lajos Koltai, a second-time director after shooting some 50 films, seems to know what performances he wants, and for the most part gets them. (As may be no surprise from someone with his eye, the Newport setting also looks gorgeous.) The problem with Evening, then, is the "so what?" factor, which tends to undercut numerous films that romanticize love stories from decades in the past. Even with a sprinkling of real tragedy, this particular wedding-weekend romance just doesn't seem epic enough that its details would resurface to Ann (played by Danes and Redgrave) on her death bed. The idea of "the one that got away" has a definite tragic romanticism for genre fans, but it also raises the bar, requiring the filmmakers to demonstrate why the dashing Harris (Patrick Wilson) had more substance than a weekend fling. For fans of Susan Minot's book, his character was also changed from an opportunistic womanizer to a blandly sympathetic gentleman, diminishing the "dangerous allure" he needs to project. Completing the structural similarity to films like How to Make an American Quilt, the younger generation also has its set of complementary issues to work through. But Collette and Natasha Richardson (Redgrave's actual daughter) get short-changed on their half of this equation, as the ways Ann became a not-so-great mother to them are neither detailed nor interesting -- another change from Minot's novel.
by Derek Armstrong review