Starting Out in the Evening

One thing that’s lost in the transition from excellent book to excellent film: great paragraphs like this:

‘Can we lie down?’ she said, and thereby murdered his illusion that she couldn’t make a false step. He didn’t want to lie down. He felt so spent, so old. This young woman was offering him a gift; she was astonishingly kind; he thought of friends of his, other men in their late sixties or seventies, who simply wouldn’t believe him if he told them about all this. Could he ever tell them that a lovely young woman had offered herself to him and that he’d been less than elated? The fact was that he wished she weren’t there. He wished he were alone in bed, reading Daniel Deronda.

The feel of the scenes is almost always preserved—Lauren Ambrose and Frank Langella are fantastic actors, both in line delivery and in gesture—but the specific kick of that last line! It’s a pleasure for reading only, isn’t it?

One thing that’s gained: There are two readings in the film, both shot, if I’m not mistaken, at the 92nd Street Y. At the first, the text that the actor playing its ostensible author is reading is from the novel itself; i.e., what Schiller, the aging novelist, early in the movie, is listening to is Brian Morton’s description of Schiller, late in the book, rising up and out of his old, spent body, looking back down at himself lying in a hospital bed.

I didn’t recognize the text that Joie Lee reads in the second scene at the Y—but perhaps it’s also from the novel?

(Addendum: I asked Brian, and he replied that yes, it is. What do you even call this? A trans-genre Borgesian wink?)

Also gained: Eric Ozawa’s brilliant, uncredited performance in the party scene!

See also. (Via.)