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78

Generally favorable reviews - based on 33 Critics What's this?

User Score
7.9

Generally favorable reviews- based on 21 Ratings

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  • Summary: All that remains for Leonard Schiller is his work. His one enduring goal in life is to finish the novel whose completion has eluded him for ten years. With his earlier books out of print, he has learned to starve himself of the desire for the success he was once so close to, though beneathAll that remains for Leonard Schiller is his work. His one enduring goal in life is to finish the novel whose completion has eluded him for ten years. With his earlier books out of print, he has learned to starve himself of the desire for the success he was once so close to, though beneath this practice lies a pull for his work to be rediscovered. Schiller’s main contact to the world is through his daughter, Ariel, with whom he has settled into an amiable relationship, though he must hide his disappointment that at 39 she remains befuddled by life, still looking for love and a father for a longed-for child. Schiller’s world is shaken when Heather Wolfe, a smart, ambitious graduate student, convinces him that she can use her thesis on his work to bring him back into the literary world spotlight. (Roadside Attractions) Expand
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 31 out of 33
  2. Negative: 0 out of 33
  1. Succeeds so beautifully because of a compelling story, great acting, intelligent writing and sensitive direction.
  2. 100
    Intelligent, involving and conspicuously adult, Starting Out in the Evening is almost shocking in its distinctiveness, its ability to create high drama from an unlikely source.
  3. Whether this reserved, hypercautious widower can deal with the arousal she creates in him - let alone be physically able to act on it - is one of the many layers of tension that drive this unusual and absolutely riveting dance.
  4. If the film has a weakness, it's an ending that's so vague and open to interpretation that it's not at all clear how director Andrew Wagner ultimately wants us to feel about these self-absorbed characters and their precious literary concerns. But the performances carry the day.
  5. 75
    Langella delivers a master class in acting. He's playing Leonard Schiller, an aging author aching from the loss of his wife, a weak heart and literary neglect.
  6. 75
    It's a gentle, unhurried drama about how people can connect with each other through conversation, nonverbal gestures, and writing.
  7. 50
    Wagner and company fail to follow Langella's primary rule of storytelling: "Follow the characters around until they do something interesting."

See all 33 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 8 out of 10
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 10
  3. Negative: 2 out of 10
  1. HarryL.
    Dec 23, 2007
    10
    Jane S., I've been waiting years to say this but "Jane, you ignorant slut" you have no idea what the difference is between romance, sex Jane S., I've been waiting years to say this but "Jane, you ignorant slut" you have no idea what the difference is between romance, sex and attraction. This was a marvelous work where, by the way, English and English majors, are treated with dignity, integrity and respect. Expand
  2. BobL.
    Dec 8, 2007
    10
    Brilliantly executed, with superb performances by Frank Langella and the rest of the cast. No simple truths, no simple resolutions. A Brilliantly executed, with superb performances by Frank Langella and the rest of the cast. No simple truths, no simple resolutions. A thoughtful, original, impressive film. Expand
  3. Joan
    Dec 18, 2007
    10
    If Frank Langella isn't nominated for an Oscar for his performance in this film, then no one should be nominated. A beautifully cast and If Frank Langella isn't nominated for an Oscar for his performance in this film, then no one should be nominated. A beautifully cast and directed film...full of "real" NYC location shots and a sensitively portrayed character study of relationships. I loved it. Expand
  4. NancyO.
    Dec 17, 2007
    8
    Excellent and nuanced performance by Frank Langella. Lauren Ambrose was also great as the mainpulative, would-be seductress. Lili Taylor as Excellent and nuanced performance by Frank Langella. Lauren Ambrose was also great as the mainpulative, would-be seductress. Lili Taylor as the conflicted and weaker character of the daughter displayed the intelligence and ambiguity one would expect. Really interesting film. Expand
  5. ChadS.
    Apr 25, 2008
    8
    In Noam Bambauch's "The Squid and the Whale", Walt Berkman(Jesse Eisenberg) corrects his younger brother on a New York sidewalk, when In Noam Bambauch's "The Squid and the Whale", Walt Berkman(Jesse Eisenberg) corrects his younger brother on a New York sidewalk, when Frank(Owen Kline) talks about the "magazine" that published their mother's short story. As if the smaller Berkman gives a flying f***, the bigger Berkman with the bigger brain, informs his tennis buff bro that their mother's short story came out in a "literary journal". Owen is a philistine. And later in the film, a self-proclaimed one. Ariel Schiller(Lili Taylor) is a philistine, too. Much to her father's silent chagrin, she doesn't speak his language. Heather(Lauren Ambrose) is working on a thesis, not a "book", that examines the out-of-print novels of a forgotten writer, novelist Leonard Schiller(Frank Langella). Ariel might be a yoga instructor, but she's older and wiser than Owen. Knowing full-well what was expected of a writer's daughter(named after Sylvia Plath's first book of poems), maybe Ariel purposely misspoke, to underscore Leonard's lost invitation to the pantheon of literary greats. Books are written about his contemporaries. But he's no Saul Bellow("The Adventures of Augie March"). Apparently, he wasn't much of a father either, at one time. Vestiges from this rocky past can be gleaned by the omission of an "I", when both father and daughter say they love each other("Love you," not "I love you."). In "The Squid and the Whale", we're witnesses to the storm. How children can drown in the vortex of their writer/father's megalomania. In "Starting Out in the Evening", we see the calm that comes after. More or less, Ariel survived. She's single and motherless, but far from being human wreckage. When Leonard finally relents, and admits to Heather, that his own life experiences do indeed inform his novels, its from a viewpoint of objectivity. "Starting Out in the Evening" is objective, too. Since there are no flashbacks to the earlier incarnation of this absentee dad, Leonard survives our scrutiny, our close reading, and doesn't come off as a tyrant. Expand
  6. JayH.
    Apr 19, 2008
    6
    I am surprised the ratings on this are so high. It's not a bad film but it sure is not an exciting one and I was bored with it at times. I am surprised the ratings on this are so high. It's not a bad film but it sure is not an exciting one and I was bored with it at times. Finely acted though and it's a good quality film. Expand
  7. JaneS.
    Dec 15, 2007
    0
    I saw this because Ebert said it was for anyone who loved writing and literature. i didn't sign up to see a 25 year old Alice in I saw this because Ebert said it was for anyone who loved writing and literature. i didn't sign up to see a 25 year old Alice in wonderland kid have sex with a 65 year old dotard. disgusting from a young woman's point of view if you ask me. i nearly died. Ii hated this film, and it doesn't portray English majors favorably at all, or writers for that matter. Expand

See all 10 User Reviews

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