Technical advances bring artistic opportunities. Admittedly, I've seen my share of indifferent films shot on digital video, but at the same time, DV's also given us some of the best performances in recent memory -- Vera Farmiga in Down to the Bone, Patricia Clarkson in Pieces of April, Maggie Gyllenhaal in Sherrybaby. And, to that list, we can now add Frank Langella's performance in Starting Out in the Evening -- and those of Lauren Ambrose and Lili Taylor, as well. Langella plays Leonard Schiller -- a novelist trying to finish one more book, even though his other works are seemingly long-forgotten. But a graduate student, Heather (Ambrose), comes to call; she's working on a thesis about his earlier novels, and would like to interview Leonard for it. He's not interested -- too much work, too little time -- but something about her tenacity and insight wins him over. ...

... and perhaps it shouldn't. Ambrose's Heather is captivating and complex from the outset -- left to her own devices in Leonard's apartment she immediately starts casing the joint. She's smart and swift and manipulative -- but, in a weird way, not maliciously so. And soon she gets the measure of Leonard's life -- writing, writing and more writing, punctuated by the company of his daughter Ariel (Taylor) from time to time. Ariel's breezy and mostly together -- and in a relationship she's not crazy about, still thinking about her ex, Casey (Adrian Lester). Ariel would very much like to be a mom, but things aren't working out that way; maybe they never will.

So many motion pictures are driven by big conflict and big concepts that the subtlety and small-scale motions of Starting Out in the Evening sneak up on us; both Leonard and Ariel are so obsessed by the idea of how much time they have left that they're missing out on what's happening during the time they have now. And both of them come to a very different understanding of time and its unstoppable forward motion. ...