Starting Out in the Evening

Metascore
78

Generally favorable reviews - based on 33 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 31 out of 33
  2. Negative: 0 out of 33

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Critic Reviews

  1. Wallows in bleakness and settles for sentimental gestures.
  2. 50
    Wagner and company fail to follow Langella's primary rule of storytelling: "Follow the characters around until they do something interesting."

Awards & Rankings

User Score
7.6

Generally favorable reviews- based on 22 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 7 out of 10
  2. 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 »