‘The Evening Hour’ Review: Heart of the Country
A colleague of mine once initiated a momentous thought experiment: If you could visit the quaint fictional towns depicted in the Hollywood dramas of the 1940s, they could be ravaged by the opioid epidemic. The idea draws a thread of continuity in American life, which I believe is in part what “The Evening Hour” is trying to do.
Set in a small town in the Appalachians, Braden King’s bright second feature film centers around a healthy caregiver, Cole (Philip Ettinger), who moonlights as a drug dealer. His daily rounds of checking the elderly – including his grandmother – also involve picking up and dropping off pills. He’s a peacemaker with an occasional girlfriend (Stacy Martin), a clingy old friend (Cosmo Jarvis), another boyfriend (Michael Trotter), who is also a client, and an absent mother (Lili Taylor), who shows up. suddenly upon the death of his grandfather. .
King strives to portray a tight mesh of relationships around Cole, directing Elizabeth Palmore’s valiant adaptation of the sensitively rendered Carter Sickels novel. But lacking a strong central performance from Ettinger – who gets stuck in a half-pained, half-exasperated setting – much of the film feels like a series of comings and goings, in and out. And from the moment a ruthless croupier in town takes a hard look at Cole, there’s no doubt where his side business will lead.
In flashbacks, Cole longs to spend time with his grandfather and at church gatherings. The film opens and ends with appreciative panoramas of the verdant hills that suggest that the heart of the country will live on. But what comes in the middle doesn’t quite hold.
Unclassified. Duration: 1 hour 54 minutes. In theaters.
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