THE EVENING STAR
Grumpy Old Feminist
Release Date: December 01, 1996
Starring: Shirley MacLaine, Bill Paxton,
Juliette Lewis, Miranda
Richardson, Marion Ross, &
Genre: Dramatic Comedy
Runtime: 120 minutes
Distributor: Paramount Pictures
Director: Robert Harling
Producer: David Kirkpatrick
Writer: Robert Harling
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Having become mother to her grandchildren, Aurora Greenway faces the challenges of life with regard to dealing with their foolish decisions. She has been a devoted and oftentimes overbearing surrogate mother, but cannot seem to understand what went wrong. The three grandchildren are not absolute upstanding models of civility, and she knows it. She has: one grandson, Tommy (George Newbern), who is in prison on a drug possession charge; another grandson, Teddy (Mackenzie Astin ), is shacking up with the mother of his illegitimate son; and, her one saving grace, granddaughter Melanie (Juliette Lewis), who has decided to drop out of Rice University and live with her unfaithful boyfriend.
Aurora has neither been a model of perfection, nor an easy person to be around. She is a Texas blue-blood with an aristocratic attitude. Her grandchildren no longer view her meddling as helpful, but as hurtful. They have each found ways to push her out of their lives, though she resists their futile attempts. In addition, she struggles with her nemesis, Patsy (Miranda Richardson), for the affection of her grandchildren.
With all of these issues to control, Aurora seeks the counsel of the attractive Jerry (Bill Paxton). After sharing several of her memories and a family dinner party with Jerry, they become lovers. To the astonishment of her maid and best friend, Rosie (played by Marion Ross), Aurora starts neglecting her troubled family in order to catalogue all of her old memories and pictures.
As she weathers the storm, Aurora Greenway reflects on the challenges in her life and the poor as well as the quality choices she, her daughter, and even her grandchildren have made. She knowingly handles most of life’s intimate ecstasies and passing ironies. From the beginning of Aurora’s chronicle to the end, family and friends are born and pass away. Aurora Greenway represents the “evening star” (which is of course, not really a star at all but a dead planet) that appears to shine the brightest and last the longest.
Screenwriter and director, Robert Harling’s adaptation of Larry McMurtry’s novel is a heart wrenching story on a par with the original TERMS OF ENDEARMENT. Aurora depicts a headstrong, liberated older woman whom men desire, young and old. Insensitive to others, she says anything she wants and even hurts people close to her, while still being admired and revered by the silly sycophants around her. The male characters are shallow, single-minded and weak in Aurora’s emasculating presence. Thus, the movie is feminist.
Solipsistic Shirley MacLaine has been type-cast in this character, and she is supported by a cast composed of real talent. The characters work together well. The supporting role of Rosie, played by Marion Ross, is surprisingly powerful. Rosie has lived her life as an innocent bystander to the extraordinary lifestyle of Aurora, but she comes across as one of the outstanding characters.
With strong feminist elements and open pre- and post-marital fornication, this movie shows one older woman’s selfish and sinful walk through a rather complicated and jumbled memoir. She balances herself between being in control and being out of control through the people who find themselves in her path and become entangled with her self-centered idiosyncrasies.
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Sherry Lansing, Chairman, Motion Pictures Group
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New Age diva Shirley MacLaine returns as Aurora Greenway from TERMS OF ENDEARMENT in another pagan tear-jerker entitled THE EVENING STAR. The dramatic comedy portrays the relentless mother of free-living daughter, Emma (Deborah Winger from TERMS OF ENDEARMENT). Aurora is now older and even more relentless as the grandmother of her deceased daughter’s children. She has been a devoted and oftentimes overbearing surrogate mother, but cannot seem to understand what went wrong. One grandson, Tommy (George Newbern), is in prison on a drug possession charge. Another grandson, Teddy (Mackenzie Astin ), is shacking up with the mother of his illegitimate son. And, her granddaughter Melanie (Juliette Lewis), decides to drop out of Rice University and live with her unfaithful boyfriend. Her grandchildren no longer accept her meddling as helpful, but see it as hurtful.
As she has weathers the storms, Aurora reflects on the poor as well as the quality choices she, her daughter and her grandchildren have made. While family and friends are born and pass away, and Aurora Greenway represents the “evening star” (which is of course, not really a star at all but a dead planet) that appears to shine the brightest and last the longest. With strong feminist elements and fornication, this movie shows one sinful, older woman’s walk through a rather complicated and jumbled memoir.