Starting Out in the Evening (USA; 111 min.)

directed by: Andrew Wagner
starring: Frank Langella; Lauren Ambrose; Lili Taylor; Adreian Lester; Jessica Hecht
Starting Out in the Evening

Michael says: "Come on, wouldn't you see this for the cast alone? Another film featuring a widowed academic in New York City, similar in gentle tone to THE VISITOR, but with a different look at the way we live our lives, STARTING OUT IN THE EVENING features a stand-our performance by Langella and a pair of strong supporting turns by Ambrose and Taylor. When obscure literary author Leonard Schiller (Langella) is approached by a young, eager Heather Wolfe (Ambrose), a grad student working on her graduate thesis about him, he gently rebuffs her citing time constraints while he works on his latest novel, ten years in the writing. Persistence pays off, however, and Heather finally gains access to Schiller's life and works. As their unique yet recognizable relationship begins to grow, Schiller is also trying to guide his 40-year-old daughter Ariel (Taylor) wrestle with the difficulties of a ticking biological clock and an ex-boyfriend (Lester, another great performance in this host of strong turns) suddenly returning in her life.

Wagner, whose previous film THE TALENT GIVEN US, was a low-budget, self-distributed road film starring his own family, has gotten some money to play with, and it's evident on the beautifully shot scenes of the Big Apple. In STARTING OUT IN THE EVENING, Wagner focuses on the reasons we need to get up in the morning, and how it's never too late to reaffirm our places in the world. It's lovingly drawn and superbly acted; a real treat for fans of the human drama.

Both the pre-film intro by a tearful Wagner, and the post-film Q&A where the director was joined by a warmly received Langella were wonderful additions to this fine cinematic experience. 4 cats

"STARTING OUT IN THE EVENING screened at the Toronto International Film Festival"