Against the backdrop of Manhattan's changing literary and publishing world, aging novelist Leonard Schiller is asked by Heather Wolfe, a graduate student and budding literary critic, to agree to interviews. He's reluctant to spend the time: his health is failing and he wants to finish one more book. Also he's worried about his daughter, Ariel, who's approaching 40, underemployed, single and wanting a child. But he agrees, hoping Heather can help resurrect interest in his work. As Heather probes Frank's writing and his past, Ariel reconnects to a former lover. Emotions can be raw and messy, and as relationships change, who gets the better part of the bargain? Written by
Stu Richel played the husband of Jill Eikenberry in a scene with her former lover, played by Frank Langella. The Jill-Frank relationship was thought not to be "central to the spine of the story" and was dropped in the final cut. See more »
While Heather drinks orange juice with Leonard, the amount of orange juice in her glass changes several times, and her bangs switch back and forth between disorderly and parted neatly in the middle. See more »
Men my age are like chewing gum; ten minutes of flavor, and then just bland repetition.
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Greetings again from the darkness. I saw two films here. One was spellbinding, fascinating and enlightening and featured a top-notch performance from Frank Langella. The "other" film was anytime Lauren Ambrose ("Six Feet Under") appeared on screen. Every time she opened her mouth, I felt myself deflate. Not only is she awkward to look at, but this part was poorly written and horribly acted. Langella was in an Oscar worthy film, while Ambrose was in a weak Lifetime flick.
Let's concentrate on the good stuff. Langella is Leonard Schiller, an aging novelist, who time not only has forgotten, but really never really knew in the first place. A grad student shows up under the premise of resurrecting his career through her thesis. One dose of reality later, they are spending enormous amounts of time talking about his life and writing. Langella's performance is so textured and subtle that we can feel his pain while recollecting and his anxiety while (almost) touching Ambrose (the grad student) for the first time.
This is director Andrew Wagner's first real film and he displays quite a knack for filming faces and allowing the pace of the film to mirror the reserved, simmering nature of Langella's character. Based on a novel by Brian Morton, the story focuses on a writer's desperation to finish his last novel but also on an aging man's struggle with a body that is continually letting him down ... at times to the point of humiliation.
Lili Taylor plays Langella's well meaning, but confused daughter who reconnects with an ex-lover played very well by Adrian Lester ("Primary Colors"). The sub-plots are a nice addition to the story and provide contrast to the reserved demeanor of Langella's character.
I have no idea how this film will ever find an audience, but those who love intricate character studies will be mesmerized by the Langella side of the film. Sadly, you will just have to fight through the whole grad student role ... think of it as the obnoxious person at an otherwise great party. Last note - the score is a nice compliment to the film and in lesser hands, could have been a distraction. Nicely done.
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