(BY ALI NADERZAD) Every once in a while staying at home and renting a movie is a brilliant idea, even if you live in New York City. That’s what I did recently when I saw A Few Days in September, a Selected Film at the 2006 Venice Film Festival. What attracted me to the movie, besides the fact that it was at Venice, was its eclectic cast: John Turturro, Juliette Binoche and Nick Nolte. The lure of an international espionage story wasn’t to be ignored, for sure. The film, shot by Argentine director Santiago Amigorena, is deceivingly simple. Three people have to negotiate international borders and overzealous killers to rendez-vous with someone they hadn’t heard from until then. You could argue that it is also about a man who is reunited with a sister he didn’t know he had, or even about the biggest terrorist attack upon the United States. The latter, believe it or not, is a slightly accessory detail. Irene Montano (Juliette Binoche) is a double agent trying to meet with her old boss, the elusive Elliott (Nolte). Their rendez-vous is twice aborted because of third parties who keep creeping up at the least opportune time with less than friendly motives. William Pound (played by John Turturro), is an assassin whose penchant for poetry and seeing Elliott dead offers the movie’s unique glimmer of well-needed self-deprecation. Perhaps he might even be a figment of our imagination, a counterweight to Montano’s serene determinism. And yet, Pound is deadly serious as he pursues her and her two charges. Elliott had a son David (Tom Riley) and a daughter named Orlando (Sara Forestier) from different mothers and he is counting on Montano to bring them to the rendez-vous for a big payday awaits them. What makes Days eminently watchable is Amigorena’s even-handed approach to the film’s various disasters large and small. It’s refreshing compared to the dramatizations which we are used to by now. The equity which with he paces Days lends it a theatricality which is set off by the film’s magnificent exteriors: Paris, the grand boulevards and Venice, the canals and the palazzos. A melancoly pervades these proceedings but the good guys win in the end–well, almost. The parting shot will be devastating and leave you on an altogether different emotional note, bringing it everything home. Outstanding performances by Binoche and Amigorena’s deft hand make A Few Days in September a solid film.

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