July 2, 2007


This romantic drama is kind of a lady actress equivalent of "The Departed," with a sterling cast of prestige actresses: Vanessa Redgrave, Glenn Close, Toni Collette, Natasha Richardson, and Claire Danes, plus one more. The film flashes back and forth between now, when a dying woman (Redgrave) who remembers her most important weekend as a young woman (when she is played by Danes) as the maid of honor at her best friend's high WASP wedding in 1956. In 2006 her daughters (Collette and Richardson, who is Redgrave's real life daughter) deal both with her imminent death and their own relationship problems.

The best casting is the little known young Mamie Gummer as the 1956 bride, not because she's great, but because she's a dead ringer for Meryl Streep. It's the best young-old look-alike casting for the same character since Ewan McGregor and Albert Finney as the salesman in "Big Fish." So, just as "The Departed" isn't over until Mark Wahlberg shows up again, "Evening" maintains some momentum waiting around to see if Meryl Streep shows up in 2006 as the bride plus 50 years. She finally does, and her warm, matronly widow (the exact opposite of her "Devil Wears Prada" character) is worth the wait, bringing the film some needed resolution. So, Streep wins the act-off. Is there any question anymore that she is the best actress in the history of movies?

The reason young Miss Gummer looks so much like Streep turns out to be because she's one of Streep's four children with sculptor Don Gummer.

I assumed Natasha Richardson, who won the Tony for the "Cabaret" revival of 1998, would be the granddaughter of both Sir Michael Redgrave on her mother's side, and another of the famous original five knights of acting, Sir Ralph Richardson, on her father's side. But her father, Tony Richardson, director of "Tom Jones," was not the son of Sir Ralph. (The other three were Gielgud, Guinness, and Olivier.)

"Evening" looks nice, especially the summer 1956 wedding at a "cottage" above the surf crashing on the rocks at Newport, RI. But the screenplay aims lower than you'd expect from the quality of actresses assembled. The aim seems to be to copy the success of the surprise hit "The Notebook" rather than something more artistically ambitious. I don't think it works as well as "The Notebook," but I'm not the target demographic.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If, through some fluke of weird events, Debbie Harry ever gets to fulfill her dream of playing Doris Day, one thing she'd be very stupid not to do is cast Elisha Cuthbert as the young Doris. Not only do both vaguely resemble Day, but Cuthbert and Harry are eerily alike from some angles-only 40 years apart.

For that reason, Blondie fans are unhappy that Cuthbert was passed over in favor of Kirsten Dunst to play Harry in a forthcoming Blondie biopic.

Rumor is that Clem Burke will be played by....himself.