Evening

Claire Danes has been near the top of my list ever since she played the depressed teenager Angela Chase on the short-lived TV drama My So-Called Life. She spent her days in high school hell swooning over Jordan Catalano as played by Jared Leto. The show only lasted 19 episodes but launched Danes' career. Since then she has made some interesting and diverse career choices that span the commercial (The Rainmaker) to the artistic (Stage Beauty).

This Friday, Danes takes on the starring role of Ann Grant in the ultimate summer women's movie, Evening. This is a big summer for Danes, she also stars in the upcoming fantasy drama Stardust with Michelle Pfeiffer and Robert DeNiro. The rest of the cast is stellar including Vanessa Redgrave, Toni Collette, Natasha Richardson, Meryl Streep, Mamie Gummer (Meryl's daughter) Glenn Close and Eileen Atkins. There has never been a more impressive female cast assembled in a single film. Up and comers Patrick Wilson (from last year's Little Children with Kate Winslet) and Hugh Dancy are beyond terrific as the male leads.

Even with all the stars surrounding her, this film makes Danes an official movie star. You can't take your eyes off of her. The film, from the novel by Susan Minot, tells the story of a woman (Redgrave) at the end of her life reminiscing about her one great love. Danes plays Redgrave's character in the flashbacks which take place scenes around the fateful weekend wedding of her best friend Lila (Gummer) and her life-altering encounter with Harris (Wilson).

Directing his second feature, Hungarian cinematographer turned director Lajos Koltai does a fine job. But wouldn't this have been a perfect opportunity for a woman director? Why is Hollywood willing to give European men like Koltai and Gabriele Muccino (who had never directed a movie in English before last year's The Pursuit of Happyness) opportunities they won't give women?