September 12th (David Heinz, 2017): USA

Reviewed by Susan Scaduto. Viewed at a special screening at Antioch University during SBIFF 2017.

David Heinz wrote and directed this film about what happened to two people who travel across country by van, right after the events of September 11, 2001.

Joe Purdy, stars as Elliott and Amber Rubarth stars as Joni. They meet on a flight going to NYC that gets sent back to LAX after all air traffic was stopped that traumatic morning. Joni invites Elliott to her aunt’s house after the airport closes. They decide to join forces to get to NYC together after they are offered a van to drive to NY.

Joni and Elliott begin their drive to NY without much money or even a plan on how they would pay for expenses or where they would stop. It was rather awkward and slow start to the film. The two actors seem as uncomfortable in front of the camera as their characters are with each other.

They travel through several states and meet various characters along the way. The pair experience car troubles as the van was not well-maintained. The various folks they meet help them and the common theme is the kindness of strangers.

Joni and Elliott discover they both have a love of folk music and they begin to sing and play together. This shared love of folk music is what bonds them.

As far as their motivations for getting home, Joni needs to get back to her sick mother. Elliott has to get to a music gig. It was a stretch for to believe in the urgency of their mission.

As they travel from the west coast to the east coast, we get to see a lot of beautiful scenery and nature that makes up our country. I thought this was the best part of the film.

When the pair are midway through the country, they meet a couple of young ladies going home to announce they’re lovers to one of the girl’s parents. The young ladies decided that life is short and they must be their true selves and come out.

When the foursome get to the girl’s family home, they have a meal where the couple come out to the parents. It’s an awkward moment for all but Elliott stands up to the father and tells him he should be glad his family is alive, regardless of their sexuality.

During the last stretch of the trip, they end up in a campsite that is full of others like themselves, folks trying to get home by road because the airports are still closed. There is a lovely evening of singing and eating and bonding among all the different types of folks in the campsite. This was moving and touching to me.

I found the writing and acting to be boring and lacking maturity. The characters are so cliche and predictable. As someone has stated in class, this could’ve been a short film and did not need to be a feature.

The best part of this film, as I stated earlier, is the cinematography of the natural beauty of this country.




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