+ "Evening": When a film with this kind of pedigree â€” it’s based on a novel by Susan Minot; adapted by Minot and Michael Cunningham; directed by Lajos Koltai, whose "Fateless" was the most beautiful-looking film to ever be made about the Holocaust, a fact that makes its lack of sentimentality all the more piercing; and stars an avalanche of respected actresses, among them Vanessa Redgrave, Meryl Streep, Natasha Richardson, Claire Danes and Toni Collette â€” gets buried in the height of the summer far from awards season, it’s generally a sign that the film is a dog of Clifford proportions. According to Manohla Dargis at the New York Times, the film is actually a sign of something else: "Stuffed with actors of variable talent, burdened with false, labored dialogue and distinguished by a florid visual style better suited to fairy tales and greeting cards, this miscalculation underlines what can happen when certain literary works meet the bottom line of the movies. It also proves that not every book deserves its own film." Seconds Andrew O’Hehir at Salon: "I don’t quite know what to make of the fact that two distinguished novelists produced this blend of sub-Tennessee Williams period potboiler and quasi-spiritual fairy dust. Maybe if Joyce and Nabokov had written a screenplay together, it would have been ‘Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood.’"
d Gonzalez at Slant suggests that "[m]ade by dilettantes, for dilettantes, the film might be considered a gay man’s fetish art," and Elle Taylor at the LA Weekly adds that "[y]ou have to wonder, too, what [Minot] thought of Cunninghamâ€™s major plot surgery, which corrals just about every hot-eyed young thing in the movie to fall in love with the undeserving Harris, playing up hints of incestuous attraction and inserting a homoerotic subtext involving a painfully miscast Hugh Dancy as a rich young drunk with forthcoming tragedy in his puppy eyes."
David Edelstein at New York allows that some of the performances are still worth watching. "Evening only bestirs itself when Meryl Streep in old-lady makeup pays Redgrave a visit: The way these two great actresses breathe the same air and adjust their rhythms to each other seems almost holy."
"In truth," seconds David Denby at the New Yorker, "this sort of mood-memory material would have been done better fifty years ago, when it would have starred Lana Turner, Rock Hudson, Sandra Dee, and John Gavin, and been directed by Douglas Sirk. The resulting movieâ€”letâ€™s call it ‘Thereâ€™s Always Yesterday’â€”would have been obvious and floridly emotional, but it would have had greater energy and theatrical flair than ‘Evening,’ which isnâ€™t much fun." Fortunately, Roger Ebert provides plenty of fun himself, breaking out the signature brand of not-snark he employs in his best take-downs: "Buddy inevitably is an alcoholic whose family members are forever moving the wine bottle out of his reach. He has to get drunk as an excuse to kiss Harris. This is pathetic. Buddy should grow up, bite the bullet and learn that it takes no excuse to get drunk."