Published Dec 01, 2002There's nothing particularly ground-breaking about this film but I doubt if that's the point. Over the past year there have been countless testimonials about the events of 9/11 and in many ways this is one more. It's also smart, funny and cathartic. Nancy Savoca (Dogfight, Household Saints) filmed Reno's show one woman's perspective on the attack as a resident of lower Manhattan, comedienne and liberal in December of 2001. Reno keeps a frantic pace on stage as she describes the community that formed during that time and awakening to the division that formed in its aftermath. She starts to wonder if everyone witnessed the same events that she did. Reno manages to find a lot of humour (my favourite line, "Where was the Emergency Broadcast System?") while describing the terror and confusion that consumed everyone. She and her neighbours became refugees from "Tribecastan." At first, their new community creates allegiances (and she found herself doing things she never thought possible, like laughing when construction workers make lewd comments) but it's short-lived. Other people's reactions soon become rooted in the "us against them" mentality. Reno must rationalise her love of America that had never been fully recognised before with rabid patriotism that surrounds her. Does loving America mean you must hate everyone else? The terror didn't end on September 11. This is Reno's show and Savoca barely intrudes. Different cameras are used to capture Reno's sometimes frantic pace across the stage, pieces are well edited together to provide perspective. Only the occasional camera trick is employed; slowing the film down, almost to a still, when we all need a pause to reflect. The sound of the building, the cement floors slamming down, as the towers crumble. Reno: Rebel Without A Pause does a good job mixing the tragic with the funny. And while it might not go far enough when discussing the larger political points, it also doesn't slip into a maudlin story of death and heroism.