This book to movie adaptation is cinematic and bittersweet. Sisters Constance (Natasha Richardson) and Nina (Toni Collette) gather at their mother’s (Ann, played by Vanessa Redgrave) deathbed. The story is richly told in flashbacks, where Ann is played by Claire Danes. The 1950s flashbacks are based on Ann’s friend Lila’s wedding and the weekend in Newport when it all took place. There’s a handsome and wonderful man named Harris (Patrick Wilson), who Ann loved but never wound up with, and hopeless drunk Buddy (Lila’s sister, played by Hugh Dancy) Life carried on nonetheless, as it always does. The scenery is spectacular, the characters authentic and the story is poignant.
While Evening could be easily labeled as a soppy “ladydrama,” I happened to enjoy the quiet mood it took me through. The friendship between Lila and Ann reminds me of my own best friend, the keeper of each other’s secrets…thinking of us at the end. Also inspiring was the subtle transformation of Anne’s daughter Nina, the more troubled of the two. The screenplay was richly adapted (note to self: read the novel) as well as beautifully directed. This woman’s life, like so many others, was anything but ordinary. The rich detail and secrets kept by a dying woman at the end of all things are fascinating, deep and kept only by her.