Starting Out in the Evening

Novelist Leonard Schiller (Frank Langella) is in the evening of his life. And yet, in some ways, he’s just starting out. Meanwhile, when grad student Heather Wolfe (Lauren Ambrose) develops a potentially unhealthy fixation on Schiller, he agrees to let her write a literary biography of him in the hopes of reigniting his career. This film creates tremendous tension with very little action by constantly hinting at possibilities. Is Wolfe crazy? Is Schiller hiding something? All the dialogue is rich with vague undercurrents (except for a few expository sequences near the beginning) and dense with the feeling that some horrible event is about to occur. Director/writer Andrew Wagner is comfortable asking questions without answering them, and the ambiguities pile up beautifully as the film moves on. Still, with the clear sense of coming tragedy, one wonders if the characters wouldn’t have been better off starting out in the morning, or perhaps the late afternoon.

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