There aren’t many films that set out to capture a moment in time the way WTC View does. Set shortly after 9/11, the movie (and the play its based on) attempts to capture the fear, paranoia, anger, sadness, confusion and hope that came to those in New York after the towers came down.
A pre-Ugly Betty Michael Urie plays Eric, a young gay man who lives in an apartment that until a few weeks before enjoyed a view of the World Trade Center. He’s now broken up with his boyfriend and his roommate is gone, and Eric needs to find someone else to share his apartment with as soon as he can. While normally that wouldn’t be a problem, with everything in flux, finding a roomie proves difficult.
Set almost exclusively inside the apartment, the film follows Eric meeting a succession of possible new roommates, as well as chatting with his best friend Josie. Each of them reveals a different response to the tragedy, from a man who was in the World Trade Center towers when the planes hit, to a student who hopes to build bridges to peace. It also slowly becomes clear that Eric has a closer connection and stronger reaction to the terrorist attack than even he would like to admit.
Looking at the film now, 10 years on from when it was made, it’s fascinating to be taken back into a microcosm of a time when the world seemed very different and not like it ever had before. While most artistic responses to 9/11 have concentrated on those directly involved – survivors, victims, families or first responders – WTC View’s great strength is in trying to capture what it was like for everyone else, particularly those who were in New York at the time.
Urie is excellent as Eric, handling a role extremely well that could have swung from being too nonchalant to too hysterical in less able hands. Although not all of the actors are as good as him, they’re all aided by a script that knows what it’s doing in attempting capture the different responses to 9/11 and in doing so builds a picture of a very specific moment in time.
I couldn’t help being reminded of The Laramie Project, which also stepped in to capture the response to a tragedy and how it affected more than just those directly involved – in that case the murder of Matthew Shepard. Both films are in turns sad, hopeful, funny and tinged with melancholy, finding their dramatic tension in people trying to find a way through after the world has turned into a place that seems very wrong.
While its limited set-up could have made it seem very stagey the movie manages to overcome that and feel suitably cinematic.
WTC View really is worth a watch, not least for how it captures a very specific moment in time, which all of us remember but which now seems increasingly difficult to evoke. Indeed it’s perhaps the film’s greatest strength, in that allowing a variety of different people to give their own take on the events of 9/11, it leaves gaps for the viewer to bring their own remembrances and put themselves back into that moment. That may sound depressing and while there is inevitably a somewhat melancholic air around the movie, it’s extremely effective.
WTC View is now available via iTunes in both the US and UK
Overall Verdict: With a great performance from Michael Urie as a gay man coming to terms with 9/11, WTC View is still an effective capturing of a moment in time that works even 10 years after it was made.
Reviewer: Tim Isaac