Where were you on September 11th? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that question if I tried. But asking anyone that, especially those that lived in New York, automatically causes an exchange of recollections and remembrances often bittersweet. I can live to be ninety and I’ll forever remember September 11th and the week subsequent to that. The carnage, the anger, the number of lives taken from us, the families left to suffer, and then after that: bedlam.
While Oliver Stone and many other big wigs in Hollywood prepare their big budget, star studded spectacles tackling that horrible day, in comes “September 12th”, a heartfelt exploration in to a family’s grieving of their daughter. Touhey’s approach toward the story harkens back to “Moonlight Mile”, resembling many of its themes and plot point, but “September 12th” deals with how death can in many ways alter our perception of a loved one in more ways than we know. It can erase all the bad memories and faults they had and set in our consciousness a denial that in many ways lasts forever. “September 12th” is a dark elegy about how we perceive our loved ones, and how sometimes we choose to perceive them, but it’s also a truly unique drama about tragedy that even touched a nerve on a few occasions.
Three years after their daughter Lori’s death on September 11th, the Riga family is confronted by a lawyer who explains that he has something to tell them. Angered that he’d offer his business on such an occasion they brush him off and continue with their mourning. After he’s kicked out of his apartment, Frank goes home with Lori’s ex-boyfriend Rick and the two begin discussing her, and the recollection suddenly turns in to a heated bout of anger and resentment and a startling revelation occurs. Rick still worships Lori after three years keeping pictures of her around the house focusing on her, and refuses to get involved with a neighbor who is in love with him, while Frank displays an unusual sense of apathy toward her memory that Rick is uneasy about. Ultimately, the two men begin to display two sides of Lori.
The dichotomy between them, both men an allegory for the reality and the illusion of this person they loved, is engrossing to watch. And as the story unfolds we begin to learn that perhaps Lori was not the amazing person Rick remembers. Though, the performances are rocky, “September 12th” is a very well written and well directed story that never preaches and never becomes melodramatic. The emotional climax to the film really did hit hard with a heartbreaking plot twist, and a last scene that really struck a chord with me displaying not only a message of grief, but also of humanity and how we can get by a horrible situation if we stick together. Star Joe Iacovino gives a great performance as the bitter and conflicted Frank who struggles to decide how he felt about his sister. “September 12th” is a more than worthy addition to the legacy of that tragedy, it’s highly recommended.