8:46 (2011)

Posted: January 14, 2014 in Movie Review
Tags: , , ,

8.46 (2011)

Director: Jennifer Gargano

Starring: Shelly Shenoy, Mike DiGiacinto, Elizabeth Eggers, Laurie Dawn, Buzz Roddy

Generally speaking, films centered around the subject of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks are not the sort of thing I care to seek out. It’s not that I believe they won’t tell honest stories, nor that I think I can’t handle the images. Simply, it is because I don’t need a movie to tell me how to feel about what happened. I don’t need to be reminded of where I was when the news reports first came in. At work, and nowhere near the only TV in the building (located in the break room), I was forced to listen to 9/11 unfold over the radio like some kind of “War of the Worlds” broadcast, only it wasn’t fake. Real people were dying, and the whole of America and the rest of the world was less innocent because of it. It is a day I will never forget, and one I’m in no hurry to relive.

“8:46” is an ensemble piece that, unlike most 9/11 movies, takes the focus off the event itself and puts it onto the lives of those affected by it. We don’t look in on any celebrities or politicians, those whose names would have made headlines on a newspaper. Just people. The title, of course, comes from the moment the attacks themselves began. The first plane hit the World Trade Center at 8:46 AM (EST). The movie begins on September 10, 2011. In every respect, September 10th was just another Monday, the same as the following day was supposed to be just another Tuesday. “8:46” is a reflection of this, showing several men and women of different ethnic and social backgrounds going about their daily routines, having the same arguments with their spouses that they always do, being concerned that they make a good impression on their first day at work, or about whether or not a promotion will come their way, or saving important news for “when the time is right” because it can wait until tomorrow.

One of the best things that “8:46” has going for it is that it is an independent film. Lacking a big budget and featuring a cast of unknown actors keeps the attention on the subject matter. Movies like “World Trade Center,” “United 93” or “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” can distract the viewer with familiar faces, when anonymity is a more powerful narrative tool. We can see something of ourselves in one or more of the characters. Whether this helps elevate “8:46” to the top of the list of 9/11 films is completely subjective.

With a running time of just under an hour, “8:46” is mercifully brief. No time is wasted, even though it may appear that way at first. Extensive plot threads aren’t in the cards. You’re going to be introduced to a lot of people, but barely have enough time to get to know them or even learn their names. Who they are is unimportant. That everything they did and said on September 10th was ordinary is precisely the point. We relate to this because we go through each day of our own lives never imagining that tomorrow could be our last. It takes a tragedy on the scale of a 9/11 to emphasize the value of telling your loved ones exactly what you think of them every time you leave home.

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