Starting Out in the Evening features Frank Langella as aging novelist Leonard Schiller who published 4 successful novels decades ago. Now working on his last novel, he is doggedly pursued by a master’s student, Heather, played by Lauren Ambrose, who claims that his popularity can be resurrected by her master’s thesis about his past work. Also Leonard has an attentive daughter, Ariel who used to be a dancer and is now Pilates instructor and whose biological clock is ticking as she approaches 40. She rekindles her romance with Casey, played by Adrian Lester, who has previously hurt her because he is a reluctant father.
Leonard is of a time of restraint and formality in relationships with the fairer sex that precludes his associating with Heather in the way she seems to require for both her work and her idolization of him. But she is so pushy and ambitious that she penetrates his defenses on both accounts and befriends Ariel as well. Heather’s pushiness made me downright uncomfortable. I squirmed in my seat.
There were lots of literary references made throughout the movie and I saw it with an older librarian and even she was not that well read. We both found that level of literary name dropping pretentious. You have to be extremely read to know them all. I would imagine you would need an advanced degree in Literature to know them all. Yet, this was an acting tour de force for Frank Langella. Though, I must agree that he did span looking extremely old and decrepit to extremely fit during the movie.
I really wanted to like this movie, as I am a big fan of Mr. Langella’s and have seen most of his movies, but I could not as I found Heather’s character too pushy and the movie too self important. I only recommend this move to staunch Frank Langella fans, and not the ones who only loved him as Dracula.
I give it
** of five stars