In rural Australia, two fifteen year old boys - one white, one aborigianl- get a sharp lesson in social reality. score

moviereview rates films from
1 (unwatchable) to 5 (unmissable)
Clarence John Ryan, Xavier Samuel, Kieran Darcy-Smith, Lisa Flanagan, Sibylla Budd

Peter Carstairs


Peter Carstairs
Ant Horn


Rating / Running Time
M / 85 minutes

Australian Release
November 2007

Official Site

(c) moviereview 2006-2007
ABN 72 775 390 361
In most regards, September could be considered a companion piece to Somersault and Romulus, My Father: the former for its haunting, ethereal tone; the latter for an acute sense of time and place.

In his debut, Tropfest supported feature, Peter Carstairs turns the clock back to 1968 in the Australian wheat-belt. It was a time when cinemas were still segregated and the year that legislation forced employers to pay Aborigines the same wage as white people. It is this social change and sense of injustice that forms the backbone to a story about friendship, and aspiration, in an era when man aimed for the moon.

Two fifteen-year-old boys are growing up side by side in different worlds – one is the son of a struggling farmer, the other the son of an Aboriginal farm labourer. Ed is getting an education; Paddy is not and sees his future with a boxing troupe. The boys are inseparable, and then Amelia arrives at school. There’s a touch of To Kill A Mockingbird about the narrative structure – the way in which small things quickly escalate, and how good men like Ed’s father sided with institutional racism against lifelong friends.

September is also a film about what’s not said – much more is conveyed in the elegant pauses than through sparse dialogue. It’s a perfect match for its time and location. A fresh cast give strong, credible performances though the film’s brilliance lies in its score and cinematography. Here runs a line of muted exchange as striking landscapes conduct a sublime underscore to the immediate drama.

Whether it is a school bus flying across the asphalt, or a lone tree being slowly drawn into focus, September is an exquisite film that doesn’t rely on devastating tragedy to make its point. It rewards patience.