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Sweet November

  sweet november
"I know there's no spoon!"
Charlize Theron tires of Keanu Reeves' "Matrix" lessons.

2001, Warner Bros.
All Rights Reserved

I think I would know what my answer would be if asked to spend one month hanging out and making love to Charlize Theron.

For Nelson Moss (Keanu Reeves), that answer is a bit tougher. A workaholic marketing whiz with a beautiful girlfriend who has dumped him, a life that offers no happiness, and a job that he has just lost, Russell meets Sara Deever. A free spirit who takes on lovers for one month at a time to teach them about the little things in the world, Sara invites Nelson into her world for the duration of November. After initial hesitation, Nelson soon falls in love with the vivacious Sara, only to discover the tragic reason to why Sara only allows men in her life one month at a time (though if you've seen the marketing, you know that reason already).

"Sweet November" (IMDb listing) isn't so much a bad film as it's a misguided one. Lots of effort went into this production — from the pleasing cinematography by Edward Lachman to the big bucks shelled out to acquire the graceful Enya song "Only Time." Take all the pieces apart from each other, and the project looks good. Put them together and "November" is a drag. A lousy soap opera that carelessly forgets to allow the audience time to fall in love with the characters.

Nelson and Sara are two people I would avoid at all costs in the real world. The hard-driving executive character that Reeves portrays is one that needs to be retired in Hollywood. Reeves, in one of his few real romantic leading roles, offers none of the appeal that served him so well in "Point Break" or "A Walk in the Clouds." In "November," Reeves is unquestionably bad. It looks from the final film that director Pat O'Connor didn't know what to do with the Nelson character and just encouraged Reeves to go bigger with his performance. With his hands going a mile a minute, and that monotone voice of his trying to pass for a bitter capitalist, Reeves is screwed right from the start. Trying to compensate for a defective script, the scarcity of help from anyone in the production seals Keanu's fate quickly.

Charlize Theron fares better as she is far more equipped to play warm and fuzzy. It's a shame the script short-sheets her character as well. A big subplot digging into Sara's relationship with her estranged sister is established right off as a major element to Sara's behavior, but the movie never pays it off. This leaves Sara's ultimate decline a little less important than it should have been.

When the story turns from wild and carefree to sedate and gloomy, the characters in "November" have many lessons to learn. We've seen it all before, however the formality of the picture is not what bothers me. The lack of enthusiasm from the filmmakers, and the painfully thin control the production had on the flawed screenplay, is what really infuriates me. Soap opera romances are such a rare thing in this day and age, and to see one with promise that fails thoroughly really sours the soup.

Filmfodder Grade: D

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