I almost didn't go to see this because I thought the constraints on its production - the constraints of showing the final hours of people with living relatives, and the political and emotional constraints within US society - would have a stifling effect. I expected it to be sentimental, black-and-white and jingoistic. That would have been understandable, but not much fun to watch.
However I read a couple of five star reviews (in the Guardian and Observer) so I decided to go and see it last night. Wow. It's a superb film. Against all the odds - and you know my feelings about anti-Moslem invective and 'war on terror' propaganda - against those odds, it is a great piece of work. I recommend it.
It's shot in a documentary hand-held style, with minor actors and amateurs. The performances are quite low-key, and the first three quarters of the film are a slow build up. I thought it was effective, and emotionally powerful. There are many nice touches and the hijackers are shown in a balanced but not stupidly sympathetic way.
I have a few quibbles. As we don't know what actually happened, how do we know that the only German passenger was also the only coward and appeaser? How do we know all the women passengers were ineffectual? However, it could have happened like that, and it didn't spoil the film.
When the lights came up the audience sat in stunned silence, which seemed the most appropriate response.