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Movie Reviews

Sweet November  

A Goofy Love Story That Doesn't Even Complete Its Own Arc

Cast: Keanu Reeves...............Nelson Moss
Charlize Theron............Sara Deever
Jason Isaacs...............Chad
Greg Germann...............Vince Holland
Directed by: Pat O'Connor Written by: Kurt Voelker Based on an original screenplay by Herman Raucher
Rated PG-13 for sexual content and language.

Sweet November
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You know you're in trouble when you sit down to write a review and are unsure of what the filmmakers in question were trying to convey. "Sweet November" is a love story. I think. I'm not completely certain because the characters' notions of what love is are so incredibly warped, it derails any ability for the film to capture the sympathy of a viewer.

I have not seen the original 1968 version upon which this movie is based. I can only guess that screenwriter Kurt Voelker tried to imitate the original script step-for-step without comprehending the meaning behind those written words. Either that, or he didn't bother to incorporate his own interpretation of what the original story was trying to convey.

However, the blame cannot be put atop the writer's shoulders alone. Amazingly, this is a movie that somehow managed to get through its entire production without anyone understanding what it is supposed to be about. I make that statement with complete confidence after seeing the film's final scene, which I won't reveal. The ending convinces me that nobody associated with the picture; director Pat O'Connor, writer Voelker or anyone else, knew what they were trying to say.

To further discuss the movie, I'll have to reveal some plot points. So, if you don't wish to know too much more about it, I'd advise to stop reading.

Basically, the story is about two people. One is not likable. The other is not understandable. Keanu Reeves plays Nelson Moss, an overworked advertising executive who makes an enormous sum of money and treats those around him in the most cruel of fashions. Charlize Theron is Sarah Deever, an eccentric, fumbling oddball who makes Clouseau look graceful by comparison. Only in the movies would two people of the sort be destined to end up together. After an encounter at a written motor vehicle exam, she notices the pent-up frustration in him and makes the exec an offer. The deal involves inviting him to live with her for a whole month. She claims it will help him. "How could a lunatic like you help a guy like me?" he asks. "You're living in a box," she replies. "I can lift the lid."

He turns down the offer, but is soon fired from his job after a campaign presentation for hot dogs that is so horrid, it's staggering that he managed to stay employed for so long. With nowhere else to go, he takes her up on the offer. There is a method to Sarah's madness, as she invites a different man into her life for a month at a time. We are told she is suffering from an incurable disease, and this is a way for her to get the most out of life. I'm not exactly sure how she accomplishes this, and the script doesn't give us any more insight. Eventually, they fall in love, and ...

The movie doesn't go anywhere from there. Honestly. The story just stops. Sure, we're treated to some soul searching by each participant, in addition to a labored tear-yanking scene where Moss climbs through her second-story window carrying a bag of Christmas presents. He keeps pulling gift after gift out of the sack as the realization hits us that in no way could he have hauled the immense bag up the fire escape in the first place. Perhaps I was supposed to look beyond implausibilities like that, but how could I overlook scenes like the movie's aforementioned ending that is so limp, it has to be seen to be believed. Not only is the film's message misguided, but it's undermined at the conclusion. I didn't know if I should be stunned or grateful.

I like both Keanu Reeves and Charlize Theron, and do believe they can work well together. They just need to locate a better script; one not quite as overwrought as "The Devil's Advocate" and not nearly as downright awful as this one. "Sweet November" is a movie that left me confused and frustrated. To undo the intellectual anguish felt after seeing it, I'll have to view something simpler, something a little more refreshing, something easier on the mind. Maybe "Traffic".

Copyright 2001 Michael Brendan McLarney Critically Ill

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