Friday, April 6, 2012

Starting Out in the Evening

by Drew Martin
I recently watched Starting Out in the Evening (click left to see the trailer). Movies about authors and books can be hit-or-miss but I like the pace of this movie, and the casting of the handful of actors is good. Frank Langella plays Leonard Schiller, an author who has outlived his audience's interest except for that of a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed graduate student, Heather Wolfe (played by Lauren Ambrose) who is writing her masters thesis about him. Schiller and Wolfe’s characters develop as she slips into his personal life and draws comparisons between Schiller’s work and his own experiences. She accuses him of taking his characters with him into a sheltered space after the death of his wife, who had left him for another man. While Wolfe is a constant pursuer, working her way into Schiller's world, his apartment and eventually his bed, Schiller flops between cautious rejection and a lustful embrace. What I like about the structure of this film is how these two characters are drawn out on a long, thin line of crafted words while Schiller’s daughter, Ariel (played by Lili Taylor) is completely cinematic and raw. To Ariel, Schiller's literary feats are tangents from the real world. She is a former dancer who teaches yoga and Pilates, and goes to performances and movies, and struggles with the relationship of her boyfriend, Casey (played by Adrian Lester).