By Debi Lee Mandel

I took forever to getting round to writing this review because I don't know how to not like a Woody Allen film. September is not a bad film; it's just perfectly unremarkable, never capturing my attention, my interest or my emotions. Even at his most intimate, Woody always has something universal to say, but this little angst-tinged story is just, well, a bore.

Mia Farrow is Lane, a delicate, wispy creature who has recently survived a suicide attempt. It is late summer in Vermont, and Lane's quiet country home is filled with visitors: her neighbor Howard (Elliot), who is silently smitten with her; an unhappily married friend, Stephanie (Wiest); Peter (Waterston, as Allen's token writer), who has rented Lane's guesthouse for the season; her mother Diane (Stritch), a gregarious, faded actress, and Diane's doting husband, Lloyd (Warden). Over the next few days, we discover Howard's aforementioned affection for Lane, Lane's for Peter, Peter's for Stephanie and Lane's unforgiving disaffection for her mother. Oh yeah, and the "dark secret" Diane has forced Lane to bear since childhood. I almost forgot.

There's nothing remarkable about the performances here; the cast is well honed and professional, but there's just not much for them to work with. Elaine Stritch delivers the only scene that shook me from my lull (quoted above). Dianne Wiest, who made her way to Oscar nominations for her work in two other Allen films (winning Best Supporting Actress for Hannah and Her Sisters) is delicately understated, presenting the only character I could bear to focus on. Fans of TV's Law & Order might take a purient interest in her scenes with current co-star, Sam Waterston. (An interesting note provided by the included "Collectible Booklet" adds that Allen actually shot the entire film twice, which meant replacing Waterston for Sam Shepard; Stritch for Maureen O'Sullivan and Elliott for Charles Durning. Sadly, to no avail.)

September is pretty much Allen's attempt to re-create the atmosphere of, let's say, Cries and Whispers, in the vein of his more finely crafted Interiors. Lane's sun-filled, white-washed house suddenly becomes claustrophobic, steeped in the gloom of the ensemble's interactions and eventually, total darkness (literally, when a storm disrupts the power)—why is it that, when robbed of the distractions electricity provides modern humans, their discomfort and ensuing boredom inevitably illuminates their darker thoughts? Ah, right...this only happens in the movies; in my house, we make shadow-puppets with a flashlight.

By dawn's early light, all is revealed and it is obvious that people are meant to live lives unfulfilled and that which one desires remains eternally just beyond one's grasp…but, "After all, September is another month."

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