September

September

*****

Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson

You could, perhaps should, call this an 'epic short'. 20 minutes does not seem enough, but here it is, densely packed, lives and stories and emotions and themes, a taut bundle of beautiful moments that create something stunning.

Somewhere off the motorway network, perhaps Wales, among the anonymity and the monotony, there is a service station. In its kitchens, in branded polo shirt and baseball cap, works Marvin. It seems the closest thing he has to a friend is Roland, whose views seem as narrow as his eyes. They'll sit, this pair, and watch traffic, life, pass them by. Things come to pass that see this change.

One of their colleagues is leaving, going to University, getting out of this place. Roland, well portrayed by the multi-talented Tim Plester, is contemptuous. As Marvin, Nicholas Aaron manages to be both closed and open, a cipher accessible to the audience if not those around him. Even as someone leaves, there is a stranger in area - a young, pretty girl from somewhere in Eastern Europe, with her hard-nosed trainer. The isolation of the place draws them, it gives her room to practice.

You'll notice no real clue here as to what she is practicing; it is so unexpected that you deserve to discover it yourself. It is framed as gymnastics. This is an archetype with which we are all familiar. That drive, those sacrifices, those stories from Olympics past. Guide enough, but nowhere near. September's ambition soars and it is more than capable of it.

The landscapes are verges and overgrown overpasses, weed filled fields one suspects are dormant, vaguely ear-marked for never to arrive development, listed time and again in documents with words like 'corridor' and 'opportunity' on their title pages. The landscapes are beautiful. Sunlight and dandelions, pastoral, bucolic, the air of remembering.

This is brilliant work, casting motorway services as a liminal zone, where right and truth are blurred; not perhaps surprising when confronted with what passes for breakfast, but in cinematic terms novel and well used. September won best short film at this year's BAFTAs, and it deserved to. This is an amazing work.

Reviewed on: 24 Feb 2009
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Marvin is not going anywhere. Into this forgotten corner of English countryside and motorway services arrives an extraordinary young girl, changing his world forever.

Director: Esther May Campbell

Year: 2008

Runtime: 21 minutes

Country: UK


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