A mood piece in a minor key, “September” traces the shift in a marriage caused by a wife’s mysterious illness. As her body betrays her, cutting her breath short, she turns inward and away from her husband who cannot bridge the widening gap. Relying on empty spaces, fading light and silences, Turkish photographer-turned-helmer Cemil Agacikoglu’s debut feature limns the husband’s sense of superfluity and newfound vulnerability toward another woman actively seeking his help. Lacking the scope of countryman Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s mournful walkabouts, “September” nonetheless reps a quiet fest-bound find.
Yusuf (Turgay Aydin), a gentle, introverted goldsmith, cannot sufficiently reassure his sick, frightened wife, Asli (Gorken Yeltan). He goes from sitting silently by her hospital bed to winding gold strips in the workshop above his boss’ jewelry store, to pacing his empty apartment, to finally ferrying his wife back to her home village once she regains strength. Meanwhile, Asli’s young Russian wardmate (Elena Polyanskaya), beaten by her rich protector and needing sanctary, calls Yusuf, who finds her a hotel room. Helmer Agacikoglu grants these locations tremendously vivid presence, exerting a gravitational pull that anchors his otherwise slight interpersonal story.