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The Last September

In 1920s Ireland, the residents of an estate vainly attempt to keep at bay the troubles threatening their comfortable existence.


At once ruminative and provocative, director Deborah Warner's first feature examines the consequences of indifference in a changing world. Lady Myra and Sir Richard run their country house with benign firmness, yet have little idea what animates their ostensibly dull niece Lois. When a trio of weekend visitors arrive, however, Lois is emboldened, seeking answers to a host of repressed questions and embarking on her own dangerous adventure.


Keeley Hawes plays Lois with attractive brisk innocence, and one could hardly have cast a better Lady Myra than Maggie Smith, or a better Sir Richard than Michael Gambon, delightfully distracted throughout. As the houseguests, Jane Birkin lends Francie apt ficklessness while Lambert Wilson's Hugo is a model of indecision, but it's Fiona Shaw's radiant and imperious Marda Norton, once engaged to Hugo, who steals the show. Supporting players are no less good, with David Tennant's Capt. Colthurst a sympathetic standout.


Deborah Warner cut her directing teeth on the stage, and the stately pace she affects here proves it. But slow-moving doesn't necessarily mean boring. Indeed, Warner's keen eye for detail (to say nothing of her innovative shots) should keep patient viewers on edge.

Bottom Line

This thoughtful meditation is certain to quicken the pulse of "Masterpiece Theater" fans.


Starring Maggie Smith, Michael Gambon, Jane Birkin, Fiona Shaw and Lambert Wilson.

Directed by Deborah Warner. Produced by Yvonne Thunder. Screenplay by John Banville from a novel by Elizabeth Bowen. Released by Trimark Pictures.