A drama exploring the romantic past and emotional present of Ann Grant and her daughters, Constance and Nina. As Ann lays dying, she remembers, and is moved to convey to her daughters, the defining moments in her life 50 years prior, when she was a young woman. Harris is the man Ann loves in the 1950s and never forgets.
The love which binds mother and daughter -- seen through the prism of one mother's life as it crests with optimism, navigates a turning point, and ebbs to its close. Overcome by the power of memory, Ann Lord reveals a long-held secret to her concerned daughters; Constance, a content wife and mother, and Nina, a restless single woman. Both are bedside when Ann calls out for the man she loved more than any other. But who is this "Harris," wonder her daughters, and what is he to our mother? While Constance and Nina try to take stock of Ann's life and their own lives, their mother is tended to by a night nurse as she journeys in her mind back to a summer weekend some fifty years before, when she was Ann Grant, a young woman who has come from New York City to be maid of honor at the high-society Newport wedding of her dearest friend from college, Lila Wittenborn. The bride-to-be is jittery, and turns to her maid of honor rather than her own mother for support. Ann stays close to her friend... Written by
Ann points out her star, chosen by Buddy, to Harris as one of the Seven Sisters. The Seven Sisters is the Pleiades, which (in addition to Orion, which is also mentioned) is a winter constellation and could not possibly have been in the sky during the summer, when the wedding took place. See more »
Since starting to read the book this movie is based on, I'm having mixed feelings about the filmed result. I learned some time ago to see the movie adaptation of a book before I read the book, because I found that if I read the book first I was inevitably disappointed in the film. This would undoubtedly have been true here, whereas in the case of Atonement, which is probably the best filmed adaptation of a book I've ever seen, it would probably not have mattered.
I'm trying to figure out what the cause is, and I suspect that I have to point my finger squarely at Michael Cunningham. Much as I respect him for The Hours (which I have not read but which I saw and was awed by) I cannot escape the feeling that he not so much adapted Susan Minton's book as he did take a few of the characters and the basic premise and write his own movie out of it.
It's not that I dislike the movie. I actually love the movie, which is why, since I started reading the novel, I'm feeling disturbed about the whole thing. I feel disloyal to Ms. Minton for enjoying the movie which was so thooughly a departure from her work. Reading it, I can understand why she had such a struggle adapting it. Unlike what one reviewer of the movie said, it's not so much that some novels don't deserve to be a movie; it's more like some books just can't make the transition. Ms. Minton's novel operates on a level so personal and intimate to her central character, so internally, that it seems impossible to me to place it in a physical realm. Even though a lot of the book is memory of real events, it is memory, and so fragmented and ethereal as to be, I feel, not filmable. I think that Ms. Minton's work is a real work of literature, but cannot make the transition to film, which in no way detracts from its value.
I cannot yet report that Evening, the film, does not represent Evening, the novel, in any more than the most superficial way, since I'm only halfway through, but the original would have to make a tremendous leap to resemble the film that follows at this point. I guess I'm writing this because I feel that if you're going to adapt a novel, adapt it, but don't make it something else that it's not. I'm not sure if Michael Cunningham has done anything wholly original, but from what I can see so far the things he has done are all based on someone else's work. We would not have The Hours if Virginia Woolf had not written Mrs. Dalloway, and we would not have Evening, in its distressed form, if Susan Minton had not had so much trouble doing what probably should not have been attempted in the first place. But it's too much to say that it would be better if Ms. Minton had left well enough alone, because Evening, the film, is a satisfactory and beautiful work of its own.
Thus my confusion, mixed feelings, sense of disloyalty, and ultimate conclusion that, in this case, the novel cannot be the film and vice versa, and my eventual gratitude to both writers for doing what they did, so that we have both works as they are.
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