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About the Movie
When their plane from Los Angeles to New York is grounded on the morning of September 11, 2001, strangers Elliott (Joe Purdy) and Joni (Amber Rubarth) are unexpectedly thrust together amidst the chaos of that historic day. With little in common but both needing to get to NYC urgently, they accept help from Joni's family friend Scottie (Krisha Fairchild) who lends the duo a rusty old 1972 Chevy Van. The shock and stress of 9/11 quickly threatens to derail their cross country journey until the pair discover what they do have in common - a love for old folk songs. Armed with a pile of guitars left in the van from Scottie's touring days, Elliott and Joni raise their voices together (and with those they meet on the road), re-discovering the healing nature of music and bearing witness to a nation of people who, even while mourning, manage to lift each other up in the wake of tragedy.
Rotten Tomatoes Movie Reviews
- Reviews Counted: 18
- Fresh: 14
- Rotten: 4
- Average Rating: 6.1/10
Top Critics' Reviews
Fresh: The film belatedly emerges as one of the stronger fictional statements on 9/11.
Fresh: The songs are lovely, and the first-time actors give performances that grow warmer as the film progresses
Fresh: Only a few films over the years have tried to dramatize events leading up to or following 9/11. September 12th takes a modest but effective approach to that national tragedy.
Rotten: Sung mainly by real-life folk musicians Joe Purdy and Amber Rubarth, the songs lend the film an emotional resonance that the forced dialogue often struggles to achieve.
Very light slice of life
This movie was sort of a gentle and quiet film. It takes place in the days after 9/11, and lightly touches upon how people were all a little kinder to each other. I think that was supposed to be a major theme in the movie, as it's stated bluntly at one point, but it is a brushed over theme instead, not going into the depth of any "helpers" along the way except 2 in the same town that help them with their broken down van, and the commune they stop by. I'm not a fan of musicals, and I'm glad this wasn't one, but I did expect a little more music when you have Purdy and Rubarth's voices- it would have been nice to hear more of them. It's a very on the surface movie, you feel no attachment to Elliot (Purdy) because you don't know a single thing about him, was he a lumber jack? Was he a serial killer? We don't know, and maybe that's the role, to just highlight Joni's journey, but scratch the surface and make us invest in the characters a little. For not being an actress, I thought Rubarth was charming. She was a very genuine, but even her story line, while we knew more and felt more of a connection with her, it was still a very light investment in the character. The end of the movie doesn't leave you either heart broken, or uplifted, you aren't hopeful, or sad, the characters aren't any of those things as they roll into a post 9/11 city either- which is pretty strange as well. I don't know anyone that couldn't look at the skyline and feel heartsick, I don't know anyone that went into the city and didn't feel a myriad of things from tension to emptiness, as a movie that was originally named "September 12th" I think I expected a whole lot of emotion from the characters, the music, and the plot. I didn't feel much at any point. The cinematography is absolutely breath taking, and that is the only part of the movie that made my heart race. The coming out scene also felt way out there, and like it was reaching for something that didn't apply to the movie. Had it been left that the woman was moved to come out because September 11th made her realize how much her girlfriend meant to her, I think that would have been perfect, but the whole angry republican dad and meek mom it cheapened things. I am not sorry that I watched it, but I don't think I'll be recommending it either.
Simple and powerful
One of the best films I've seem that is staged around 9/11. Simple and very heartwarming to see an America that felt united in their grief and resolve. It's sad to know that that America does not exist anymore. The acting was very good and the film was powerful in it's simplicity. I was kind of taken by surprise by this little gem.
It’s a great movie. I watch it all the time, I even watch it over and over like 20 times but I think they should have gave Miranda Hill more scenes because she’s a great actress.
- American Folk (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
- Various Artists