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F. Murray Abraham,
Adapted from a stage play by Anne Nelson, a drama centering on a slice of the aftermath of the 9/11 tragedy. Nick, a fire captain, who lost eight men in the collapse of the World Trade Center, enlists help from an editor, Joan, to prepare their eulogies. Nick builds a relationship with Joan, who helps him put together the difficult, heartfelt speeches that he must deliver with honor, humor and poise--all the while, navigating his way through his own emotional response. Written by
Sujit R. Varma
I have foregone watching this film for months as I feared it might be mawkish and far too US orientated. In the event I was surprised. This isn't a film specifically about 9/11 even though the deaths discussed in the movie are those of firefighters from the FDNY. It is more concerned with how major events of this nature can impinge themselves on everyone. Many years ago when I was living in Birmingham (UK) I can remember lying in bed one night, heavily pregnant, listening to the news of the Birmingham pub bombings. Like 9/11 this was an event (though considerably smaller in numbers of deaths and injuries)that reverberated through a community for many months afterwards and in some respects still remains a significant part of Birmingham's unique character. Grief is not something to be shaken off so lightly and it is this fact upon which the film centres. There is no laying of blame -no mention of terrorists. The film simply describes how the Fire Captain Nick Costello has to cope with his grief in order to communicate to writer Joan the humanity of these people and what they meant to him; so that he can give a fitting eulogy for them. As a member of the audience it was this element of reciprocity with such events that struck me so forcibly, and the feelings of hopelessness such incidents engender. As for the script in most part it was excellent and amazingly understated, though in my opinion Joan's internal dialogues were not necessary, we all knew how she felt from watching her reaction to Nick relating his feelings in both words and looks towards his lost men. That to one side, the acting is flawless throughout by both actors. This is a truly excellent film, a deeply moving essay on grief and mental trauma; in my mind I kept revisiting Wilfred Owen's letters home to his mother from the trenches during the First World War, strongly conscious of the eerie connection.
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