Metascore
78

Generally favorable reviews - based on 33 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 31 out of 33
  2. Negative: 0 out of 33
  1. 100
    The movie is carefully modulated to draw us deeper and deeper into the situation, and uses no contrived plot devices to superimpose plot jolts on what is, after all, a story involving four civilized people who are only trying, each in a different way, to find happiness.
  2. Andrew Wagner has made a lovely comedy of death and rebirth.
  3. Director Andrew Wagner, adapting a novel by Brian Morton, is sometimes understated to a fault, but his work with the actors, who also include Lili Taylor as Leonard's daughter, is impeccable.
  4. 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.
  5. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    88
    We are slowly and mightily drawn into this intimate story, which is both intellectually stimulating and emotionally moving.
  6. Above all is Langella, achingly vulnerable under layers of flesh. In one scene, alone, he eats peanut butter intensely, thoughtfully, and nothing he could do as Hamlet would seem deeper or more poetic.
  7. 90
    It's rare to see a movie adaptation in which a filmmaker has taken so much care in translating the odd little qualities that make a particular novel special, to preserve the complex and fragile threads of feeling between characters that are often much easier to grasp on the page.
  8. 90
    What is so remarkable about Mr. Langella is that he seems to hold Leonard’s intellectual cosmos inside him, to make it implicit in the man’s every gesture and pause.
  9. 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.
  10. 100
    A rapturous, ruefully funny flight of sympathetic imagination. Featuring the first movie role for Frank Langella that ranks with his best stage parts, it's a rare kind of American movie.
  11. Succeeds so beautifully because of a compelling story, great acting, intelligent writing and sensitive direction.
User Score
7.9

Generally favorable reviews- based on 21 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 8 out of 10
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 10
  3. Negative: 2 out of 10
  1. 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. Full Review »
  2. 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. Full Review »
  3. MasonP.
    Dec 24, 2007
    1
    Awful, awful movie. Bad writing, bad editing, bad score, bad casting (at least in the female roles). The characters (other than Frank Awful, awful movie. Bad writing, bad editing, bad score, bad casting (at least in the female roles). The characters (other than Frank Langella) simply aren't believable as literary intellectuals--especially Lauren Ambrose. The writing certainly doesn't help. The same awkward scenes played over and over--reminded me of an episode of General Hospital (with a young, handsome doctor replaced by a 70 year-old writer) on repeat. Full Review »