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Movie Review: Starting Out in the Evening

Alternate Title: Running on Empty

Story: If you adore films that are character driven - this wordy, cerebral meditation by director: Andrew Wagner is for you. It's screenplay is by Fred Parnes & Andrew Wagner and is based on the novel by Brian Morton.

Out of print 70 year old Leonard Schiller is methodical, structured and inflexible. He has been trying to finish his novel for the past ten years. Into his ordered life walks Heather Wolfe, a 20 something grad student who wants to write her thesis about him and his work. Her goal is to reintroduce Schiller to the world. Her persistence pays off and she slowly but surely insinuates herself into his life. A parallel story about Schiller's 40 year old daughter and her on again off again relationship with her oft times beau coexist in the film.

This is a film about ideas, writing, privacy, relationships and self discovery. The characters are scintillating and I definitely cared about what happened to them. This is a sophisticated film with heady concepts and some interesting sexual tension.

If you like these idea driven films and cannot get enough of Frank Langella, check it out. If action is your mainstay - do not go near this piece.

Acting: Frank Langella was powerful as Schiller. He is a large screen presence even when he plays an aging man. Lauren Ambrose (the redheaded daughter in Six Feet Under) as young Heather was wonderful. She more than held her own against Langella. Lili Taylor (another Six Feet Under alum) was marvelous as Ariel. Schiller's daughter and Adrian Lester was terrific as the boyfriend.

Predilection: None

Critters: A cat and NYC pigeons.

Food: Birthday cake, toast and honey plays a big role in the film.

Sex Spectrum: There was some very seductive scenes between the youthful Heather and the aging Leonard. Schiller is also seen emerging from the bathtub and there is a quick view of his private parts. E-mail me if you want to know if Langella is circumcised.

Blatant Product Placement: Many upper West Side eateries were shown as was the 92nd Street Y

Opening Titles: Simple white type over black background. All credits at end.

Visual Art: Cinematographer Harlan Bosmajian has done a splendid job with a low budget. The Upper West Side looks splendid, as always and the interiors of the apartments are riddled with interesting detail.

Theater Audience: A handful of Langella fans.

Weather: It was a nice time of the year in NYC. A lovely fall, winter.

Sappy Factor: 0

Quirky Meter: 0

Squirm Scale: 0

Drift Factor: I was attentive throughout.

Predictability Level: I was not sure where this was going to end.

Tissue Usage: 0

Oscar Worthy: If the Oscars want to throw Langella a nod, I would not be surprised.

Big Screen or Rental: Either would do. For some of my favorite Frank Langella film's you could rent: Diary of a Mad Housewife, The Twelve Chairs, The Mark of Zorro, Dracula, Dave, Lolita, The Ninth Gate, Good Night, and Good Luck, Superman Returns and the soon to be released, Frost/Nixon (for which he won a Tony)

Length: Under two hours