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In brief:

"The Last September," "The Virgin Suicides," and "Love & Basketball"

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Adapted from Elizabeth Bowen's novel and set in 1920 in County Cork, The Last September has a graceful, fated tone, and a real subject: the fading away of the Anglo-Irish aristocrats in the wake of the war for Ireland's independence. The best moments seem practically Chekhovian, and the cast, especially Maggie Smith, Michael Gambon, and Fiona Shaw, bring to their characters' every gesture a whole universe of feeling. Some of the other players, including Keeley Hawes as the ingenue niece, are rather blank, and director Deborah Warner's imagery, with its overuse of mirrored reflections, is perhaps too precious an approximation of Bowen's crystalline prose. . . . Two directorial debuts have their moments: Sofia Coppola's The Virgin Suicides, about five suburban daughters who inexplicably, poetically, kill themselves, puts a dreamy, Salingeresque spin on material not always up to such rueful mythologizing, but Coppola has a fresh, fervid eye and a way with actors, among them Josh Hartnett, Kirsten Dunst, and Kathleen Turner. Gina Prince-Bythewood's Love & Basketball, about a female ballplayer, is mawkishly heartfelt, but actress Sanaa Lathan performs as if she were lit from within.


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