September

March 6th, 2008 DVD Reviews, Film, Xpress

The first film out of the gate of the Tropfest Feature program, September can be summed up in one word; languorous. Don’t hire it on the same night you watch Transformers because one of them will leave you seriously wanting. The story of two boys — one white and one aboriginal — on a WA wheat farm in the late 60s is peppered with slow, wide shots, long silences and flickers of expression that stand in for reams of dialogue.

The story doesn’t judge nor take a political standpoint (considering some of the overt influences of political action on the characters). It simply peers at a cluster of relationships over time and watches how changes can cause them to shatter or crumble. There’s a little redemption to be had, but nothing approximating a happy ending for many.

The disc is packed with enough extras to make you happy if you fell as much in love with the film as many did. Co-writer/director Peter Carstairs shares a commentary with editor Martin Connor and cinematographer Jules O’Loughlin where they discuss the artistic basis for the film’s visual tone and languid pacing.

As the best commentaries do, it prompts you to think about and notice things that otherwise slid straight to your subconscious. For instance, Carstairs and co. talk about how the visual subtlety and onscreen mood came from the script, which was full of the same sort of sparse emptiness where space and silence can be filled up by both the characterisations and the expectations of the audience.

Interviews with Carstairs, O’Loughlin, Connor and producer John (Tropfest) Polson give more background on the genesis and execution of the film like casting and location scouting, and Polson gives a good insight into how the Tropfest Feature Program worked and his reasons for starting it.


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