Home > Reviews > EVENING – Jan A.P. Kaczmarek

EVENING – Jan A.P. Kaczmarek

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

A thoughtful film about life, death and regret, based on the popular novel by Susan Minot, Evening stars Vanessa Redgrave as Ann Lord, an old woman at the end of her life, being cared for by her two daughters, Nina and Connie (Toni Collette and Natasha Richardson). As Ann lies in bed, waiting for the inevitable, her mind wanders back to a pivotal moment in her life: the summer of 1955, when as a young woman (Clare Danes) she attended the Rhode Island wedding of a friend, and was forced to make a decision which ultimately shaped the rest of her life. But was it the right one? As she ponders her choices, she imparts a long-held secret to her enthralled daughters, the repercussions of which are felt far and wide. With a stellar supporting cast that includes Glenn Close, Meryl Streep, Patrick Wilson, Hugh Dancy, Eileen Atkins, and Close’s real-life daughter Mamie Gummer, Lajos Koltai’s film is a moving and dramatic character study that is much more than simply a “chick flick”.

The score for Evening is by Oscar-winning Polish composer Jan A.P. Kaczmarek who, like many before him, rather vanished under the radar after picking up his golden boy for Finding Neverland in 2004. His score for Evening is generally quiet, reflective, and romantic, with special emphasis on piano, strings, woodwinds, and an occasional ethereal female voice. The “Opening Title” is a perfect example of Kaczmarek’s brand of reflective intimacy, as he offsets Justyna Streczkowska’s voice with gossamer harp and cello solos to beautiful effect.

Later, “Before the Wedding” has a slightly more nimble feel to its piano performance, although this is quickly turned in on its head by the darker “Anne and Harris in Love”, which re-interjects the longing cello theme back into the mix. In fact, the whole score has a sense of being a romantic score that never quite manages to be romantic. I appreciate that this sounds like an oxymoron, but it fits the tone of the film – that of love lost, love missed, and lifelong regrets.

Polish virtuoso pianist Leszek Mozdzer’s performances really are the emotional driving force throughout the score, and in several cues – notably “Memories of Evening”, “The Dream Continues” and “Remembering Buddy” – his lively, intricate finger work provides the thematic, timbral and emotional foundation onto which everything else is built. The final cue, “Evening”, provides the lush and emotionally heightened conclusion to the score’s various elements, and rounds thing off in a touching, satisfying way.

In many ways, Evening is the kind of score that Rachel Portman, or someone of her ilk, might have written for a similar film, and as such it is more than likely that fans of her light, personal writing will find plenty to appreciate here. The soundtrack, on Verve records, features 8 tracks from Kaczmarek’s score alongside a collection of smoky period jazz ballads performed by the likes of Peggy Lee, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan and Canadian crooner Michael Bublé.

Rating: ***½

Track Listing:

  • Opening Titles (3;00)
  • Time After Time (performed by Ella Fitzgerald) (3:31)
  • Anne Arrives (1:58)
  • Pretend Steve (performed by Ash) (1:38)
  • I’ve Got The World On A String (performed by Michael Bublé) (2:47)
  • Gee Baby Ain’t I Good To You (performed by Peggy Lee) (3:24)
  • Before the Wedding (2:05)
  • Anne and Harris In Love (2:14)
  • You’re My Thrill (performed by Peggy Lee) (3:25)
  • Memories of the Evening (2:19)
  • The Dream Continues (2:27)
  • Stairway to the Stars (performed by Sarah Vaughan) (4;46)
  • Remembering Buddy (3:05)
  • Stella By Starlight (performed by Anita O’Day) (2:06)
  • Evening (5:37)

Running Time: 44 minutes 22 seconds

Verve Records B0009205-02 (2007)

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