The question of responsibility is served in a most unusual and enigmatic manner within the 15 minutes’ running time of Mark L. Feinsod’s “After An Autumn Day That Felt Like Summer.” The film takes place in New York in the days after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Ellsworth (Timur Kocak) has been unable to return to his office job in the aftermath of the massacre at the World Trade Center and he complains, mostly to his long-time girlfriend Eleanor (Nicole Severine) of his views regarding the way that the Bush Administration handled the matter. But is Ellsworth’s inability to return to work a genuine reaction to the carnage of that horrible event, or is that just an excuse for his to avoid a job which he grew to hate?
Ellsworth’s behavior is complicated by his affair with Anne (Anna Curtis), a dancer in a burlesque revue. Whereas Eleanor can barely tolerate Ellsworth’s anger towards Bush, Anna indulges him in role-play where he pretends to be Bush and she launches a vigorous prosecution of his alleged crimes and failings. But then, Anna might be too eager to please anyone–especially in view of the erotic fan-dance number she later performs in rehearsal with members of her revue act.
Eleanor eventually trails Ellsworth to Anne’s apartment and forces him to make a choice between the two. The film ends without the audience knowing who is chosen, but ultimately that is not the question at hand. “After An Autumn Day That Felt Like Summer” is a small scale drama that offers a chilling reminder of much of the obnoxious behavior which came about following the 9/11 tragedy: the wide scale racial profiling by law enforcement agencies of men of Middle Eastern and Islamic heritage, the airline industry’s frenetic attempts to seek Congressional help in gaining immunity from lawsuits, the hemming and hawing by Congress and the White House to provide and delivery necessary funding to assist in the clean-up at Ground Zero, and the photo op appearance by the president with the Ground Zero rescue workers and his grand claim to send a message to those responsible for the attack (the fact Osama bin Laden is still at large and at least 90% of Al-Qaeda’s operatives are still operating makes that promise seem fairly empty today). While nothing in this short film can match the miserable behavior arising from 9/11, it nonetheless juxtaposes a tiny slice of bad behavior that uses a national tragedy to fuel its selfishness and self-indulgence.
Feinsod wisely directed Timur Kocak’s Ellsworth to be indifferent to those around him, which makes his nasty behavior all the more difficult to witness. The banality of his appearance and lack of emotion (even when making love to the lovely Anna Curtis) only enhances his status as a low-grade heel. Ultimately, it is meaningless for the audience to know which woman he will choose, as five-will-get-you-ten that he will be cheating on the remaining woman within a very short time.
To date, the 9/11 attack has baffled filmmakers, especially in view of the commercial failures of well-meaning films like “The Guys” and “11’9″01 — September 11.” Feinsod’s “After An Autumn Day That Felt Like Summer” may not be the message that movie audiences want to take away from that event, but it provides a much-needed rude reminder that tragedy can bring out the worst in some people.