The Last September

Anglo-Irish aristocrats in 1920 anticipate the end of their way of life during the Irish war for independence, and their decadence provides the backdrop for the coming of age of a young woman. Keeley Hawes conveys a piercing combination of naivete and disillusion as the 19-year-old niece of Michael Gambon and Maggie Smith: her feelings are as strong a metaphor for the social upheaval as her experiences with a British army captain and an Irish freedom fighter. But this gorgeous expressionist drama makes the comparisons so effectively at the outset that by the end they seem belabored. Still, a family friend and role model (Fiona Shaw) is a beguilingly complex plot device. Deborah Warner directed a screenplay by John Banville based on a novel by Elizabeth Bowen. 103 min.

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