out of Five
Running time: 87
A delicate study of complex relationships, Late September is a thought-provoking and insightful drama about the deep, underlying problems of a marriage, containing authentic performances from its unknown cast.
What’s it all about?
Directed by Jon Sanders, Late September takes place over a 24-hour period and chronicles the aftermath of a 65th birthday party held for Ken (Richard Vanstone) by his devoted wife of forty years, Gillian (Anna Mottram) in their plush, Kent home and garden. From the opening scenes, an icy atmosphere between the two is straight away detected as they bicker over shopping lists and stare solemnly out of windows. As further guests arrive into their home, their faulty relationship is pushed further under the spotlight, revealing their underlying struggles, intricate secrets and emotionally strained relationship.
A complex and intricate character study, Late September is honest in its revelations of relatable relationship problems and rare in its candid portrayal of marriage difficulties amongst an elderly generation. Although it doesn’t quite reach the poignant height of Mike Leigh’s Another Year, there are definitely some noticeable similarities here - most identifiably, in its scene improvisation (like Another Year, the entire dialogue of Late September was entirely improvised on set), which adds palpable authenticity to the cast’s raw performances and provides emotionally engaging scenes.
The supporting cast of friends – in particular Bob Goody as the divorced and humble Jim - are also complimentary to the central storyline, each carrying their own emotional baggage, which adds a deeper insight into character complexities.
Although Late September is at times successful at replicating authentic elements of Lars Von Trier’s Dogme 95 movement - shooting on location, no superficial action or special lighting – sometimes it doesn’t quite work. Generally, the overall camera work is patchy and flawed; ill lit night scenes in the garden make it difficult to visually distinguish characters and in some intimate scenes, we’d quite like to grasp certain character’s reactions, which we are unable to do because of camera restrictions.
With its overall authentic and creditable performances, Late September is a tender and touching drama, making for insightful and engaging viewing.