Starting Out in the Evening (2007) starts a bit slowly (or maybe I wasn’t ready to focus), but I stuck with it and eventually was drawn to three fascinating characters. The protagonist played Frank Langella is a stiff, reserved aging author in NYC whose late career is in decline following barely successful early career. While dealing with his decline, he must also deal with an almost-40, single daughter (Lili Taylor) who, although attractive, smart, personable, and warm (my big four for girls), is having a hard time deciding what to do with her life.
Suddenly, into this family mix steps an attractive, smart, personable, and warm young woman (Lauren Ambrose) who wants to write her master’s thesis on Langella and his books. From the beginning, it is obvious that Ambrose’s interest in Langella goes beyond academics, and it seems a bit strange because Langella has no apparent charisma. (Incidentally, both girls are alumnus of Six Feet Under.)
A couple of Taylor’s boyfriends complete this wonderful cast of characters. I can’t remember a movie with such an assortment of interesting, well-developed characters. The Rotten Tomato critics loved it at 86%, while the audience was at only 70%. That doesn’t surprise me because most audiences don’t like character studies. I love them.
The film grossed less than $1 million. What a waste! I give it a strong three and a half stars out of four.