September 12th (David Heinz, 2017) USA
Reviewed by Alicia Huhn. Viewed at the Santa Barbara Film Festival 2017.
Music heals all. The unexpected intersection of two random folk singers match up rather easily in this Ultimate Americana Film about the American ideal of living on a dream – from your van – while touring america and playing guitar. Every artists dream of a fairy tale. Timely for sure as many metropolitan cities are peppered with people living on the fringe, out of a truck, van or car. This is a magical tale of following your heart and what happens on the way. “The journey itself” is the point of this masterful tale, what can happen and how life evolves out of necessity. On the day of 9/11/2001 two musicians Joni and Elliot are on a flight together in which the pilot turns around to LAX and disembarks the passengers. The tables are tipped, for the whole nation. Joni finds herself luckily in the back of a taxi in busy LAX and calls out to Elliot to jump in and share the ride. Neither one can deny that they need each other in this moment. Elliot is relived to catch the ride with Joni, there they are in the back of the taxi. Elliot has no idea where to go, Joni invites him along. Hopefully what happens in this movie happens to you because it is a true tale about the power of music to heal a life, a situation and turn the tragic into miraculous. The back drop of finding out while mid flight from LAX that 9/11 has occurred contrasts the urgency of each of the musicians to head to New York where they had intended to land that day. Joni’s mother is missing her but she doesn’t even know it because she has dementia, which is all the more reason for Joni, her primary caregiver to get home quick. Elliot has a gig to get to and although his craft is important to him, he quickly becomes involved in the journey and in becoming hopelessly in love with Joni. Falling in love was far from his intention in life at this time, he needed a boost in his career not a dame to distract him. Joni quickly adds to the situation in every frame. She is a most likable character and as a talented musician makes it easy to root for her as well. She is cheerful and witty with charm that wins Elliot over, time and again. Life is funny sometimes. It may not turn out to be like you thought it would, but then it may turn out unexpectedly good. Even better. This is a tale of American optimism. Instead of coming of age it’s a coming together movie. A story of how as a people we can rally together and forget our differences. The songs they sing together will carry you through and give you the feeling that in the face of uncertainty and fear, a most magical experience still awaits you through music.