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Overall Rating
2.92

Awesome: 18.18%
Worth A Look: 11.69%
Average: 24.68%
Pretty Bad35.06%
Total Crap: 10.39%

5 reviews, 47 user ratings


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Sweet November
[AllPosters.com] Buy posters from this movie
by Erik Childress

"Ending Only Thing Sweet About 'November'"
2 stars

Sweet November has one of the more beautiful, simplistic endings I've seen in recent memory. And it's an ending that's representative of the way many regularly working screenwriters think today when crafting their draft. They usually have one or two original ideas (or scenes) and venture forth under the assumption that they can write yet another quirky romance, that really isn't all that unique from the countless other monthly attempts we get out of Hollywood, but will be set apart because it has, at least, those one or two original moments. Wrong. All it does it make those few moments stand out amidst an additional 100 minutes of overused plot device cliches, underwritten characters and interesting questions that get raised and then dropped almost as quickly.

In this remake of the 1968 film starring Anthony Newley and Sandy Dennis, Keanu Reeves assumes the role of Nelson Moss, yet another hotshot advertising executive who goes to the American Psycho school of narcissism. Practically high-fiving himself after a roll in the sack with his girlfriend (Gilmore Girls' Lauren Graham), his morning routine is like a hyperactive Cliffs Notes version of Patrick Bateman's.

Nelson's life is his work as the cliché goes and continues to go here. When he's forced to find time to renew his driver's license, he crosses the path of Sara Deever (Charlize Theron). In a poorly handled and unbelievable Meet Cute, Nelson tries to cheat on his DMV exam and inadvertently gets Sara dismissed who is told to come back in 30 days. Now, without her own ride, she sets out to take Nelson on a guilt trip.

With all the subtlety of a crazed stalker, she finally gets Nelson to give her a lift. Under the threat of continued embarrassment for the next month, Nelson reluctantly agrees for a nightcap, where she makes a kooky proposal. Drop everything he's doing and spend the month with her where she promises to make a new man out of him. To a man as in control as Nelson, it's beyond crazy. But when he insults a potential client with a hot dog ad right out of Crazy People (the film's funniest scene) and his girlfriend packs up, what's a man to do when Charlize Theron is offering you a month of guilt-free sex?

Taking a cue from Cast Away, Sara makes every effort to rid Nelson of all his everyday convenience. No cell phones, watches or suits, and Nelson gives her one day to make a lasting impression on him. One can deduce that boredom and free sex brings him back to her for an extended stay as nothing they do that day can be viewed as earth-shattering. They walk some dogs, he watches her run and perform cartwheels on the beach and they eat ice cream when Nelson asks her the film's big question. Why is her free spirit lifestyle more important and more rewarding than the choice he made to live a responsible life? I perked up for a brief moment until I realized that once the question was dodged, as Sara continues to do throughout, that this was a screenplay not interested in the discussion of that premise but rather getting back to the next step of Screenwriting 101.

Nelson and Sara are mere sketches rather than broadstrokes of characterization. And they're being taken through the familiar canvas of stock supporting characters and unsupported motivation for their behavior. Sara has a neighbor, Chad (Jason Isaacs), who likes to pop in unannounced and harmlessly flirt with her. You think he's gay? When Sara questions the loyalty of Nelson's agency partner, Vince (Greg Germann), do you doubt for a second that their meeting for a competitor will end with an offer refusal and an angry friend? Nelson also becomes a father figure to a neighborhood boy in an underwritten, unnecessary subplot where he silences his teasing from other kids by helping the kid cheat in a toy boat race, complete with stock footage from The Hunt for Red October. You just have to see it.

This is the second movie that Reeves and Theron have co-starred in (the first being The Devil's Advocate). And it's the second movie where the beautiful Charlize starts out the film glowing like a ray of sunshine through a rainbow on a lake's reflection only to get an albino-ized complexion by the second hour on her journey through madness, or in this case, Cancer. That's a plot twist that is already known from the film's ads or fans of the original film. But as a motivational tool to explain Sara's thirty-day excursions into non-commitment, it explains less than nothing. We learn a little about Sara's family and job history as we do Nelson's, but nothing to convince us that we're just not witnessing the usual spokes in the wheel of blossoming movie love.

From the very beginning, Sweet November seems to have some hidden agenda about its own cynical take of the battle of the sexes filtered through the eyes of an optimist. Sara tries to mold Nelson into Mr. Right, though her methods seem conspicuously absent. Nelson is initially only in it for the sex, which Sara freely gives up, but not without a few lessons in tenderness. This time, though, it's the woman who's afraid to commit, although Nelson's big momentous decision after just a few weeks is pretty questionable, even for movie love.

Sweet November still does possess those small touches of sweetness that clearly stand apart from the conventions. The slow-moving taxi with the flowers comes to mind as does Nelson's take on the Twelve Days of Christmas. And that aforementioned ending which is as ballsy as it is wonderful gives a poet's touch to DMS (or Dying Movie Mate Syndrome). From Love Story to Untamed Heart, Brian's Song to Terms of Endearment, we've seen the bedside good-byes done to death (excuse the pun). Here we get an ending so poignant and touching and so sad only because a better movie is deserving of it and more capable of earning the tears that Sweet November so wants to coax out of us.

Segue to cue the beautiful music of Enya, which when used effectively, can be powerful romantic schmaltz as in Steve Martin's L.A. Story. Her anthem "Only Time" (used twice) is a beautiful number, but since Sweet November can't rise to the level of potent schmaltz, Nina Gordon's "Tonight and the Rest of My Life" would have been just as appropriate during the ever-growing "deep thoughts during a pop song" segments.

Working on the blueprint of a remake may have limited the changes and the writers' capacity for original thought, but why couldn't co-writers Kurt Voelker & Paul Yurick take a page from Sara's book and throw caution to the wind to toss out all the conventions and just start fresh. Why do movie romances always need to throw in the complications of the two "D's" (dislike and disease) into every relationship? Why can't two people meet, like each other and just go from there? You'd be surprised what you can fill two hours with.

I honestly don't know what to make of Sweet November. Sara is like the Annie Savoy of Bull Durham, trying to change a new man every season. This same element flip-flopped in Hitchcock's Vertigo was deemed misogynistic, but when women do it, they're just wacky free spirits. Reeves and Theron are charming enough actors to pull off this kind of material, but their relationship in The Devil's Advocate was far more heartbreaking than anything written here. The script is interested in the big romantic moments that make up movies like this and, like the ending, pulls some of them off. But it isn't wise to the little things that usually make relationships so special, like sharing. Especially with the audience.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=3911&reviewer=198
originally posted: 02/14/01 11:28:55
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User Comments

9/14/17 morris campbell not a bad flick 4 stars
1/05/14 Charles Tatum Film actually gets better as it goes along 3 stars
2/22/10 Elinor I loved it, so touching and individual, enya got heart strings. I cried, i don't cry at mo 5 stars
8/21/09 Aakash Really heart touching movie with great soul in d movie. I was really choked 5 stars
2/02/07 Maria great and very kind movie...actually teaches you something 5 stars
12/12/06 Terra Landolt Keanu Reeves sucked, but it was a great movie and Charlize is freaking beautiful! 5 stars
1/31/06 Natalie I liked the movie. Does anyone know what the dog breed is that she rescued is? 3 stars
12/14/05 gresa one of the bests movies i have ever seen in my life.i'm verry touched... 5 stars
10/26/05 Michel personal best... 5 stars
8/17/05 Bribrat123h I didn't like it to much 2 stars
2/19/05 Jeff Anderson CHARLIZE THERON IS A TRUE SAINT IN THIS FILM, THE SAME CAN'T BE SAID FOR THE OTHER ASSHOLES 1 stars
11/04/04 Achmad "Kakak" Fauzi It is the romantic one, a sad romantic film! 3 stars
1/20/04 kaz does make you stop and think.. 4 stars
10/29/03 Vanessa "All we have are our memories." This is one memorable film. 5 stars
10/21/03 Jim Eye opener for life! 5 stars
10/06/03 TheOthersFan one critic summed it up nicely: "A movie this bad means always having to say you're sorry." 1 stars
3/26/03 Jack Sommersby Not as bad as you've heard. 3 stars
1/07/03 The Big Ragu This movie ROCKS 5 stars
1/04/03 Jack Sommersby Shameless but nontheless entertaining. Nicely acted. 3 stars
12/21/02 palaboy101 Charlize was great in "Double Jeopardy", can't say the same for this... 2 stars
10/28/02 monika entertaining movie with a sad end 4 stars
7/27/02 karen goldstein corney, unbelievable & pathetic dialogue 2 stars
5/15/02 Blake This movie was romantic and sad but a good film. 5 stars
3/05/02 Julia Cox Jenny, please say you haven't seen HERE ON EARTH! 2 stars
3/05/02 Jenny Tullwartz Charlize angel? NOT!! Closest I ever came to being glad a "protagonist" was dying. 2 stars
2/25/02 Donnia Colbourne Like everything about it except for the ending 4 stars
2/14/02 shelley smith Made me think the original film was actually good and I saw it on cable. 2 stars
1/31/02 mandy bertram this movie is the best movie in the world i watch it all the time i love it 5 stars
1/03/02 mona JUST GREAT 5 stars
11/12/01 Gracy Lionheart This movie was unbelievable, boring, and (as others have put it) contrived. UGH!!! 1 stars
9/27/01 Monica who hates some actors out there boring movie. Reeves makes it even worse. 1 stars
9/11/01 TabbsCW Contrived as hell. 1 stars
8/21/01 Monday Morning If you have more than a room-temperature IQ, this will insult your intelligence. 1 stars
8/12/01 iluvcolby i didn't like the way it ended but it made me cry and it was good but not the best 4 stars
6/18/01 Peter Brook Has there ever been an actor so stiff as Keanu? 2 stars
6/14/01 *~Danielle*Ophelia~* (formerly KyLe*BrOfLoVsKi) I booed at it. And I'm usually so polite...*evil grin* 1 stars
4/25/01 Ashley I really like most of this movie, good humor, good cast but really shittie ending. 4 stars
3/27/01 SWEET 13 I THOUGHT THIS MOVIE WAS AWESOME! I DON'T CARE WHAT ANYBODY SAYS!! IT WAS SUPERB!!! 5 stars
3/06/01 Red Scorpion script could have been better but actors pulled it off - made me overlook problems. 4 stars
2/21/01 And Don't Call me Shirley I farted. Then someone took me to the bathroom and I farted my ass off. Bwaaaaaat! 2 stars
2/20/01 John Lyons Nowhere near as good as the original. Reeves sucks. 3 stars
2/20/01 Poetchuck 4 handkerchief movie 4 stars
2/19/01 Gerald Ford It scared me. I wanted to walk out but they locked the doors. 1 stars
2/19/01 Jenny-My-Fur it was cute, and it made me cry! 5 stars
2/18/01 TimmyToday I laughed. I cried. I wondered what the hell Keanu was saying. 3 stars
2/17/01 ray chick flick 2 stars
2/16/01 babydoll13 =0) keanu reeves is soooooo fine 4 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  16-Feb-2001 (PG-13)

UK
  13-Jul-2001 (12)

Australia
  12-Apr-2001 (M)


Directed by
  Pat O'Connor

Written by
  Kurt Voelker

Cast
  Keanu Reeves
  Charlize Theron
  Jason Isaacs
  Greg Germann
  Lauren Graham
  Frank Langella



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