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This deeply emotional film illuminates the timeless love that 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. Two pairs of real-life mothers and daughters—Vanessa Redgrave and Natasha Richardson, and Meryl Streep and Mamie Gummer—portray, respectively, a mother and her daughter and the mother's best friend at different stages in life. Co-starring Glenn Close, Patrick Wilson and Hugh Dancy. Screenplay by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Cunningham (The Hours), based on the best-selling novel by Susan Minot. English-language debut for director
Lajos Koltai (Fateless).
 

 Evening

It was Fateless that led me to Evening. After my life’s work as a cinematographer, Nobel Prize-winner Imre Kertész asked me to direct the story of his days in Auschwitz, an interpretation that above all would preserve linearity in the Holocaust universe. There could be no manipulation of time or exploration of side streets. The story had to be told directly as it was lived: a year of the unknowable seen through the eyes of a boy. Every step taken straight to the end.

We were most interested then in people more than surroundings, the boy and his soul and his attempts to understand his place. There is danger in knowing too much, but his resilience and perception lead him only towards survival. Here is a boy seized, forced to have a life that has never been his. This is how we understand what it means to be fateless. But here too is a boy who glimpses hope where it cannot be, and keeps it by him throughout.

It was a real gift to read the script for Evening, my first American movie as a director. American audiences had seen Fateless at a number of festivals and responded to it on a very personal level. It was meant as a tale of the individual, but indeed was also the struggle of human beings, and in that sense, carried a universal message. Evening is also a tale known to all.

Two worlds meet in the film. The first introduces us to Vanessa Redgrave as the lady Ann Lord. In the last embraces of a life that has been difficult, beautiful and unrepeatable, Ann is in and out of dreams, of recent and former times, reliving memories aloud and speaking names new to the family. Too often the moments that define the lives of those most important to us go unnoticed.

As younger generations make their way, we run the risk of forgetting or not knowing the wisdom of those that came before—of family and forebears, what we’ve done and left undone, what has been possible and might be possible still. Ann’s daughters, portrayed by Natasha Richardson and Toni Collette, long to make sense of their sacred mother’s musings when there might only be time for farewell.

The world she remembers is a lush 1950s wedding in Newport. It’s a desirable place to be—friends, sunshine, salt water and youth—and constitutes the thoughts in Ann’s mind. Bridesmaid dresses, worn tuxedos, crowns of flowers and whiskey glasses. Ann was young here once, fervently in love and desperately loved. She flourishes in the company of her memories.

This film tries to look at the important problems in our lives: our attempts to find security, our search for someone to have us. It examines the decisions we make, too soon or never at all. If lucky, it is the right one, even if it is painful. You make your decision and carry it through your life.

Our waking days intertwine with our past, and we realize our wars didn’t change. It will be who you are, where you’re going, who you belong to and the only thing that belongs to you, love and your moment, kept with you always in its golden frame.