Monday, June 21, 2010

Starting out in the Evening. B+


In Starting Out in the Evening, Frank Langella plays a novelist who's the epitome of the sort of writer that gets on my nerves. Not the books, but the manner in which he creates them. It's when the writer treats his characters as people in his life and talks about not being able to finish a book because his characters won't let him, ect, ect... I understand that characters can mean a lot to a writer and that a lot of times they're based on persons from the writer's life, but sometimes I feel writers go a little too far. I've written several novels and understand the difficulty that goes into the process, but I never talk about my characters keeping me from writing. This is fiction after all. Use your imagination. Sometimes you have to wait for a certain thing to happen, but also, just use your mind and figure it out. So naturally I was sort of irritated by the philosophy Langella's character exhibits. Yet this movie is so strong in dealing with real life that in the end the writer's fictional ideas don't really matter. This is a very well-rounded film. It has a wonderful script that does a fantastic job of developing its three central characters. There's the writer, the writer's daughter, and a student who's basing her thesis off the writer's life and his work. And it's not like it tells three separate stories. They all connect and the characters fight, assist, and act like real people. The problems in the movie are based on my own feelings and likely aren't seen as flaws in the eyes of others. I mentioned how I didn't like the way the writer goes about his writing. I also was very irritated by student. She's played by Lauren Ambrose and is the kind of person I would hate to pick me as the subject of her work. She makes it clear that she doesn't fit in with many people and that books are her best company. Then she asks the writer for help and proceeds to intrude in his life and his personal feelings. Reading books and dissecting the characters' actions seems to be the only thing she has going in her life. And I just found her character to be nosey and annoying. She rudely pries into the life of this old man and then forms some strange attraction to him. I just found her to be weird and unlikeable. But that's just me. This is still a remarkable movie filled with scenes that accurately depict the state of three very different people.

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