September Says (2024)

September Says Review

This variant of Daisy Johnson’s Sisters sees director Ariane Labed exploring bullying and its effects on the mind. September Says, like the original text of the author, tells a story about two siblings – July (Mia Tharia) and September (Pascale Kann) – who find themselves at secondary school life which is usually very tough. The institution’s students bully them hence they decide to fight back thus embarrassing their mother called Sheela (Rakhee Thakrar). They choose to move girls to their “father-shitstirrer-troublemaker”‘s native Ireland where teenagers crave for variety of entertainments boys being one tasty diversion until some home truths come tumbling down.

Labed’s feature is clunkily pieced together unlike Johnson’s intelligent use of language and economy. This esoteric horror lacks texture and timbre; it immediately jumps headfirst into macabre territory even though the alma mater scenes have gruesome undertone too. In a setup supposed to be comic but comes across as crass, September steps up to challenge the bullies; she takes it out on a wheelchair bound classmate cutting off strands of her hair which should have more consequences on assailant than does so. Danger permeates screen: July unwittingly uploads nude online, video shared and reposted multiple times. Through no lack of trying much of September Says feels forced.

These criticisms are not aimed at lead actresses: two young women happily shimmying from anxious to transcendent as adolescents do. Thakrar struggles with zestier quips in role as mother by contrast; there is no subtlety found by her within this characterisation at all. Sheela allows herself one night with rugged Celt leading to some inspired one liners but actress’s earnest delivery kills each every punchline dead also she never truly comes across type parent that gaggle siblings would gang up against given dancing photography passion for life vicariously boring people are bored intones.

The main focus of September Says is the triumvirate of women: Males flit in and out of the work, though none stay long enough to create a lasting impression on the viewers. Sheela has had her fill of boyfriends (“Your dad was a prick,”), September says she is asexual, leaving July as the only one aching to find a partner. She encounters John, a chirpy lad who invites her to a party by the beach thus creating rift between girls – being more outgoing relative, takes charge pushing sister into variety heists with hints starting innocuous instruction – “Dance around” – before they take more sinister turn.

September Says veers near to the surface of horror during opening hour while attempting shying away from its conventions like masked men or protracted fantasy sequences; there are none in it but some features such as September’s predilection for knife action which stems from underworld a la Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock, 1961). Some philosophical posturings are lost from book: Labed films trio at large but never gets under skin personages way Johnson does in her medium like much of finished work characterisation is surface level at best frustratingly undernourished at worst.

The verdant setting of Ireland is represented with a lot of respect, and the camera does not cut corners when it comes to capturing the sea breeze: this is an excellent example of mise en scène. Labed’s peak as a stylist happens early in the film, right after the family has arrived at their grandmother’s cottage. Whipping through the front garden, Labed sets up three separate stories within one event. The mother searches manically for her keys beneath bags upon bags; September laughs from inside the house; July wonders which woman will approach. There’s so much to learn from this moment – too bad it doesn’t carry through for the rest of its duration.

September Says is premiering as part of Cannes’ 77th International Film Festival in Un Certain Regard section.

Watch September Says For Free On Gomovies.

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