August 13th, 2021
MOVIE: THE EVENING HOUR
STARRING: PHILIP ETTINGER, STACY MARTIN, KERRY BISHE, MARC MENCHACA, LILI TAYLOR
DIRECTED BY: BRADEN KING
AMovieGuy.com’s RATING: 2 STARS (Out of 4)
I felt a bit sad at not liking The Evening Hour. Not because it isn’t a quality made film from director Braden King, but maybe if I had not seen Lorelei or The Killing of Two Lovers before this, it would have had a different impact. It’s the story of Cole Freeman (Philip Ettinger), a nurse working in a small Kentucky town, where the mood of the community is a steady stream of depression. These are the places ravaged by the opioid epidemic and for Cole, his life is wrapped up right into the middle of it. Adapted from Carter Sickels novel, The Evening Hour has the dramatic power we feel when a movie studies the working and impoverished heart of America, but it’s lacking in the focus and big performances that also make these stories rise to the top.
We see Cole romantically involved with Charlotte (Stacy Martin) and at first glance they seem happy, keeping away from the world’s problems. As each character in this town is introduced to us, the buttons begin to burst, not just for Cole, but for anyone that is involved in his life. He lives at home with his grandmother (Tess Harper), sickly grandfather (Frank Hoyt Taylor), and sister Naomi (Allson Gabriel). His job helps provide money for the family, but his extra income arrives from selling pills to anyone willing to be a customer. First Cole is selling it to elderly people, poor and in pain, but eventually his customer web begins to spread, and his drug dealing can’t last forever in this town.
The adaptation of the film is by Elizabeth Palmore, in a movie that has the feel of the setting right from scene one. The major problems with The Evening Hour are the performances, too many subplots, and slow pacing. The best work is from the supporting characters, especially from the always great Lili Taylor, who arrives later to make Cole’s struggles more conflicted, but not given enough to do. It’s the multiple plots of The Evening Hour that eventually weigh it down entirely. It starts with Cole’s love life between Charlotte or Lacy Cooper (Kerry Bishe) and his conflicts with family. It later morphs into issues with his relationship to drug pusher friend Reese (Michael Trotter), his fractured friendship with old buddy Terry (Cosmo Jarvis), and doing his best to lay low selling on the territory of a notoriously violent drug dealer named Everett (Marc Menchaca). There’s a lot going on in The Evening Hour, but not a lot of it becomes a scenario to be empathetic about.
The narrative may be crowded, but the worst part of The Evening Hour is not entirely the run time or various characters threatening a happiness that Cole wants to find. The problem lies within the lead performance. Ettinger is saddled with carrying most of the film and unlike his co-stars, there seems to be a lacking energy behind him, making it hard to have an inspiration to root for. His descent into selling more drugs, getting involved in stronger stuff, and an inability to connect with those around him make his narrative arc as cold as ice.
To see a story like this done so well in Lorelei or have the powerful performances we see in Four Good Days, it’s hard to stay engaged with The Evening Hour. There is potential from director Braden King and the entire cast is game to take on the roles, but it all just doesn’t come together. At any other time and any other place, The Evening Hour would have been an impressive directorial debut. Instead it just left me wondering what the better version of this would be. Sadly, this is what we’re let with in the day, afternoon, and The Evening Hour.
THE EVENING HOUR IS CURRENTLY PLAYING IN SELECT THEATERS OF NEW YORK AND LOS ANGELES. IT IS ALSO AVAILABLE ON DEMAND AUGUST 13TH.
WRITTEN BY: Leo Brady