Rain on the Parade
The Last September
Review by Ross Anthony

Beautifully filmed, "Last September" has the feeling of an impressionistic painting. The setting is that of the last days of the ruling "tribe" of Ireland back in 1916 as the Irish begin to revolt. But the primary story is at play in young Lois, a member of the elite, pursued by an innocent British soldier, but allured to the roughened Irish renegade she had known as a child.

Despite the text preface, this ruling "Tribe" scenario may still be a bit confusing to those not privy to UK history. It certainly was for me. For that reason, here is further explanation from the film's production material: They are "the Ascendancy ... moneyed, graceful and essentially feudal. The Anglo-Irish aristocracy (the wealthier heirs of English immigrants in Ireland, who sound and appear English, although they consider themselves Irish)."

Maggie Smith and Michael Gambon are superb in their proper snootitude. Fiano Shaw gives a flawless performance as Lois' influential confidant. In fact, most of the acting, direction, and cinematography are remarkable. It's the culmination of the story that falls flat against this disciplined canvas.

Director, Deborah Warner's portrayal of the sheltered, ignorantly bliss elite is as delicate and beautiful as the shell of an Easter egg -- inviting friends over for a tennis party while the countryside trembles on the verge of war.

Lois, herself, is carefree, emotion-driven, spur of the moment; and for that we all fall in love with her. With giddily attractive dialogue like..."You're so sudden all of a sudden." and "How do you know I'm not in love with some married man or something." These lines are delivered in a completely sweet and romantic scene with her innocent soldier-caller. This stunning moment is followed by a charming chat with the experienced yet, sensitively-humored, older woman.

Unfortunately, by the end of the film our patience with both Lois and this oft-used story line may not be so sympathetic.

  • The Last September. Copyright © 2000. Rated R.
  • Starring Keeley Hawes, Michael Gambon, Tom Hickey, David Tennant, Richard Roxburgh, Gary Lydon, Maggie Smith, Fiona Shaw, Lambert Wilson.
  • Directed by Deborah Warner.
  • Screenplay by John Banville based upon the novel by Elizabeth Bowen.
  • Director of Photography Slawomir Idziak.
  • Produced by Yvonne Thunder at Trimark/Matrix/Scala.


Copyright © 2000. Ross Anthony, currently based in Los Angeles, has scripted and shot documentaries, music videos, and shorts in 35 countries across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. For more reviews visit: RossAnthony.com

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Last Modified: Saturday, 16-Sep-2006 08:04:44 PDT