September is set during the last days of summer at a country house in Vermont. This movie written and directed by Woody Allen has a Chekhovian flavor in its considerations of love, mother-daughter relationships, family secrets, and aging.
Lane (Mia Farrow) is a vulnerable and lonely woman who has retreated to Vermont to escape the pressures of the real world. Licking her emotional wounds, she is comforted by a professor (Denholm Elliott) who lives nearby. He has become obsessed with her. She, in turn, has fallen in love with Peter (Sam Waterston), an ad executive who is staying in her cottage and trying to write a novel. Although buoyed by Lane's faith in him as a writer, Peter is attracted to her best friend Stephanie (Dianne Wiest), a Philadelphian who is on a vacation from her husband and children.
The most dynamic character in September is Lane's mother Diane (Elaine Stritch), a once-famous actress who is now living with Lloyd (Jack Warden), a physicist. Her relationship with her daughter is strained; they have not yet come to terms with the sharp edges of a family secret. In one of the film's many poignant moments, Diane looks in the mirror and realizes that age has robbed her of a future to match her dazzling past.
Novelist John Cheever once noted: "The main emotion of the adult American who has had all the advantages of wealth, education, and culture is disappointment." The characters in September certainly are unhappy and frustrated people. Unsure of themselves and their hearts' true desires, they look for romance as an elixir that will give substance and meaning to their lives. Woody Allen draws out fine performances from the entire cast, and as in the case of Interiors (1978), he proves himself to be a skilled and sensitive analyst of discontent.