Friday, October 12, 2007



Claire Danes, Hugh Dancy, Patrick Wilson, Vanessa Redgrave, Natasha Richardson, Toni Collette, Mamie Gummer, Glenn Close

"Her greatest secret was her greatest gift"

Ann Lord (Vanessa Redgrave) is dying but as her daughters dutifully watch over her, she keeps calling out for "Harris". Someone from her distant past who still haunts her thoughts. As an air of mystery lingers over the death bed, the director takes us back to the 50s. In picturesque Newport, a young Ann (Claire Danes) meets Harris (Patrick Wilson) for the first time, one weekend. She is in town to be the one of the bridesmaids of her best friend Lila (Mamie Gummer).

The scenes jump effortlessly from Ann's deathbed to that enchanting weekend in Newport in the 50s. Relevant subplots involve Ann's two adult daughters (Toni Collette and Natasha Richardson) coming to grip with the impending death of their mother. And at the same time, they are trying to make sense of their own lives.

Acting wise, naturally the mature actresses far outshone the younger ones portrayed by the very plain Claire Danes, the miscast Hugh Dancy, the I.cannot.act Mamie Gummer (Meryl Streep's real daughter) and the very rigid Patrick Wilson. So every time the director drifted into the Newport scenes, I wished they had chosen better actors to portray the characters. It is a pity because those Newport scenes provide the main backbone of the entire film.

I figure since it is based on a novel ("Evening" by Susan Minot), there are certain elements which cannot be interpreted on screen. Or it could be the rather rigid way that Patrick Wilson acted out his role as Harris, supposedly the love of Ann's life. The one person from her past whom she cannot forget after all these years. I had trouble understanding just what exactly it was about Harris that got Ann to fall madly in love with him. I mean sure he is a very attractive person but beyond that we don't really get a sense of his personality. There is a line where Hugh Dancy says "Everyone is in love with Harris" and I couldn't help but ask "Why???"

This film had all the right ingredients for a sappy family drama. A good ensemble cast consisting of the finest mature actresses in the film industry (Vanessa Redgrave, Meryl Street, Glenn Close, Toni Collette, Natasha Richardson), a solid mother daughters bonding plot with good cinematography yet sadly it fails be an evocative movie.

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