The treatment of the Australian Aboriginal race by the white man has always been a source of controversy. Although Aboriginal people gained Australian citizenship in 1948, equal employment rights took longer to make their way around the country and this subject forms forms the basis of September, showing at the Filmhouse as part of the London Australian Film Season.
Focusing on the friendship between Ed (Xavier Samuel) and Paddy (Clarence John Ryan), two 15-year-old friends, September takes place in the Australian wheat-belt of 1968. While Ed spends his days at school, Paddy works on Ed’s father’s farm.
As both Ed and Paddy spend time together after school, sharing their love of boxing and wondering what the future holds, their quiet life is shaken up when the issue of equal rights is brought up by Paddy’s father and their small town lifestyle is given a wider perspective.
Taking its time to build up the relationships at the centre of the story, September builds into a multi-layered, yet never overly complex, world that feels like it has existed for centuries. Helping to set the scene are some stunning landscapes, the red’s and brown’s lingered upon as the sun sets and rises around the characters. The music also stands out at many points without ever being overbearing.
While the inevitable shake-up to the status quo is felt by the viewer, more could perhaps have been done to show the full impact upon Ed and Paddy’s families, though this would have added significantly to the runtime.
Offering an intriguing look into a world that no longer exists, this is a worthy addition to the Australian film season, even if it’s dedication to the minutia does leave the ending slightly rushed.
Review by Jonathan Melville
September is on at Edinburgh’s Filmhouse on Tuesday 22 July at 6pm, visit the website for more information.