Koch on Film

By Ed Koch

“Starting Out in the Evening”

I saw this film with PT who said she loved it. As we left the theater, I met a woman who told me that she enjoys reading my movie reviews. I asked her what she thought of “Starting Out in the Evening,” and she replied that it was lovely. My immediate conclusion was that I would have to think about it. On reflection, I’ve decided that it isn’t a great picture, but it is good and definitely worth seeing.

Leonard Schiller is a 70-year-old writer who has published two successful novels. His last two books were failures, and he hasn’t found a publisher for the fifth book he is working on.

When we first meet Leonard’s daughter, Ariel (Lili Taylor), she is in a relationship which she ends, returning to an old boyfriend, Casey (Adrian Lester). Ariel is in her 40s and wants to have a child, but Casey does not.

Heather Wolfe (Lauren Ambrose), a young graduate student writing her thesis on Leonard, pursues him for interviews and eventually lures him to bed. Later on Leonard has a stroke, and his physical aging and deterioration in a very short period of time impacted heavily on me while watching the film. I had a stroke in 1987 and a heart attack in 1999. I have fully recovered from the stroke but walk a little slower because of the heart attack. I am very lucky.

The story line is thin, but it is creative and carried off very well by the brilliant acting of Langella, Taylor and Ambrose who always give superb performances. I know Frank Langella and saw him not long ago at Orso Restaurant on the West Side after seeing him that evening in the play, “Frost/Nixon.” I especially enjoyed watching Taylor and Ambrose in the wonderful HBO television series, “Six Feet Under.” Go see this picture. You’ll enjoy it.

PT said, “It’s a film that comes across with the same immediacy as a drama played out on the stage. The three major players, the writer, the student, and the daughter, are all superbly portrayed by skilled actors who bring their characters to life, each one dealing with his or her own life crisis — aging, the baby clock ticking, and infatuation. The film unfolds slowly, but I was fully involved and wondering where it would go.”

After the movie we went to Elio’s, one of the best Italian restaurants in the city. The food is superb. Appetizers range from medium to high ($9-$15), pasta dishes ($19-$24), and veal chop ($38). It is always busy, so be sure to make reservations. (Elio’s is located at 1621 Second Avenue, Between 84th & 85th Streets, in Manhattan).