Things are off to a strained start. A man sits in a boat – marooned – whilst a woman stalks around a garden under the cover of darkness.
This pretty much sets the scene for what is to come throughout the next 90 minutes. Late September is a swirling, eddying film that takes place over twenty-four hours focusing on a 65th birthday party, as well as its lead up and inevitable aftermath.
The fact that the actors were given space to improvise within every scene means that the performances we see are incredibly naturalistic. This relationship between the main couple is a particularly good example and I felt that their performance really held the film together.
You can almost feel the pressure of unsaid words and missed moments push through the screen. The endlessly circling camera during dialogue scenes maintains interest and helps build a sense of watching real time, rather than cinematic events.
I found that there was perhaps a little too much use of claustrophobic camera positioning and the dialogue scenes – though done well – could have been less like watching a TV drama. Though this is obviously down to personal taste, I do think that it made the pacing somewhat disjointed, lacking perhaps the fluidity of some of its continental peers. There is, however, a lot of power in those scenes that combine the withdrawn frame with the empty gestures of the characters.
Unfortunately, for all the atmospheres of yearning and of fraying psyches, there are scenes that go too far in their attempt to expose meaning. For instance a scene involving a piece of puppet theatre sees Sanders getting a bit beyond himself in trying to use the story of Orpheus as an allegory for the relationships in the film.
Then there is the slight (very slight) sensationalist moment at the film’s conclusion that goes some way towards spoiling the tension that has been so painstakingly built up throughout.
I feel a little more restraint was needed in these specific aspects, but overall, the film plays an interesting mix between humour and fraught emotion with some standout performances.
Late September is released nationwide on 15th June.
Watch the trailer for Late September here: