Perhaps the most pained effort at summertime counter-programming since 'The Notebook' three Junes ago, 'Evening' is yet another suffocatingly sappy tale of romance and regret, a relentlessly rote chick flick that manages to be every bit as phony as the pixel-laden blockbusters that surrounds it.As Toni Collette and Natasha Richardson tend to Vanessa Redgrave on her deathbed, they find themselves subjected to her eleventh-hour recollection of her fling with Patrick Wilson back when she was Claire Danes. (Got that?) This all takes place at the wedding of Mamie Gummer, while mutual pal Hugh Dancy (perhaps too convincing an asshole) boozes it up and lets all his true feelings come tumbling out. And that's just the gist of it.
Yes, it’s another story of how that one lady met that one man on that one night that either could have or did change her life forever, and every conceivable chick flick cliché comes out of the woodwork as a result. Chalk it up to the screenplay co-written by Susan Minot, adapting her own novel, and Michael Cunningham, drawing from his experience as author of The Hours to lather in any missed estrogen with flashback after woeful flashback of that oh-so-fateful day.
In the present day, Collette and Richardson (real-life daughter to Redgrave) bicker whenever Redgrave isn’t raving on about her long-lost lover or being visited by Meryl Streep (scrambling for her 67th Oscar nod whilst playing the elderly version of real-life daughter Gummer). Oh, and Glenn Close flails about as Gummer's mum, far too busy evoking memories of Nosferatu to earn much notice.
To be fair, out of an entire ensemble of pretty people dealing with petty problems, it’s Redgrave doing her darnedest, in spite of a role – and a movie – that does her no favors. Her character’s wearisome recollections can’t help but encourage the viewer to try hurling bucket after bucket towards the screen, out of hope that she may finally kick one, as the post-menopausal crowd grows anxious to tear up while the rest of us grow anxious to tear out the nearest exit.However hazy the memories, director Lajos Koltai ('Being Julia') still manages to give everything a crisp, colorful touch that makes one equally fond of the Rhode Island oceanfront estate where all the drama goes down, if not its occupants. For a forgettable film concerning the dearest of memories, my only thoughts that linger are those for the Newport Chamber of Commerce. The beauty of it all might just bring to tears to your eyes if boredom didn't already beat it to the punch.