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AT THE MOVIES / CRITICS' PICKS

'Starting Out in the Evening'

December 20, 2007|Carina Chocano

Andrew Wagner ("The Talent Given Us") directed this small but fascinating character drama about an ambitious young grad student (Lauren Ambrose from "Six Feet Under") who convinces an aging novelist, Leonard Schiller (Frank Langella), that her thesis about him will resurrect his career. Based on a novel by Brian Morton, it's a seduction-and-abandonment story of an unexpected kind. Ambrose is positively vulpine as the needy, reckless Heather, and Lili Taylor is tart and touching as Leonard's daughter, a 40-year-old trying to rebuild her life after heartbreak. But Langella is a quiet force-field as a man pushed to confront himself, after years of virtual exile, and change course.

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