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The Last September The Last September

The Last September is Deborah Warner's ode to the sunset of the Anglo Irish and this exquisitely shot film emanates a golden garnet hue in its first reel at County Cork manor insulated lavishly from the rebellious Irish republican wave that swirls around resulting in a tremulous lifestyle.  Warner's debut film has a fine sense of time and place, but as the melodrama heightens, a divisive nature is persistent, as many of the characters cloud up an early absorbing tale that enervates itself, even if its sets are luminous.

The proprietors of the grand home are Sir Richard Naylor (Michael Gambon), amiable, yet addled, and his haughtily pungent wife, Lady Myra, an appealing Maggie Smith.  They welcome gusts to their little castle as turmoil brews outside.  And the aristocratic Myra advises the film's central character, Lois, probably modeled after the film's source novelist, Elizabeth Bowen, against getting too serious with an infatuated British Captain, Gerald Colthurst, acted by David Tennant.  For Myra, his family is too far down on the social ladder to accommodate his loving thoughts for her.

Lois, given portions of naivety by Keeley Hawkes, is conflicted, as she may have deeply rooted feelings for the British suitor, but appears to be attracted to a friend of long ago named Connolly, done with duplicity by Gary Lydon, as the man who takes refuge at the Naylor's ruined mill, is a wanted member of the Irish Republican Army.  As she warms up to the hard edged fellow, her passion stays mainly within her mind at the emotional expense of these two disparate, but alluring folk on different sides of the tracks.

Others trying to ignore the stormy climate include Hugo and Francie, new full timers at the Naylor's, and Fiona Shaw's Marda, a Londoner who once loved Hugo.  Now Francie's and Shaw's understated uneasiness of her relations with Lambet Wilson's Hugo and an imminent property sale date is part of the dour, but felt atmosphere of The Last September.

Warner is a proven talent in theater, and the solitude of the eccentric Anglo Irish sometimes echoes last year's My Life So Far as visually the camera looks through some unique vintage points for detailed effect, but, except for Smith and Shaw, those Brits who have Irish eyes remain in obscurity.

The Last September

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