Director: Pat O'Connor
Cast: Keanu Reeves, Charlize Theron, Jason Issacs
MPAA Rating: (for sexual content and language)
Running Time: 1:54
Release Date: 2/16/01
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Review by Mark Dujsik
Sweet November is a movie that blatantly indulges in formula. There is not a single genuine moment; it is all sentimental waste. Watching it is seeing every trick in the book thrown into the mix for no reason but to tug at the heartstrings. Of course, when it doesn’t, you know you’re wasting your time. In instances like these, you have a certain cliché about a kitchen sink in the back of your mind, but this is probably the first instance where they do throw it in. But I’ll get to that later.
Nelson Moss (Keanu Reeves) is a workaholic in advertising. He must be good, and you can tell by his apartment. You know the kind—the ones that only exist in movies. He has to interrupt his work day to renew his driver’s license, and at the DMV, he meets Sara Deever (Charlize Theron), who walks in late. Nelson tries to get a test answer from her, and she is kicked out. After this, Nelson seems to think he owes Sara, and after a few more meetings, Sara makes him an offer. She will cure him of his life if he stays with her for one month. He says he has no time, but luckily, he loses his job, his car, and his girlfriend all in day. Even more conveniently, it’s November 1.
That night, a romance starts. Soon he learns that she does this every month, and he suddenly get jealous. For a long time, their relationship consists of him leaving and then coming back or insulting her and apologizing. Plus there’s the fact that they’re complete opposites, so naturally they attract, right? Next, they’re going on little outings, and Nelson’s having new adventures. Joining the two are a socially rejected boy, a gay neighbor or two, and the most adorable little dog. These are all obviously thrown in for a cute factor, and it really gets obnoxious when you realize there is no other point for them being there. Actually, the gay neighbor is Nelson’s competition in the advertising world, but that’s unimportant. Too bad the screenplay can’t realize this also.
Of course, Nelson’s life is turned upside-down by Sara, and soon enough, he’s throwing away his job and considering serious commitment. Now anyone who’s been watching the movie will wonder what Sara’s secret is, because it’s more than blatantly hinted at throughout. This is where the movie really starts outwearing its welcome. If you don’t know anything about bittersweet-romance movies or if you don’t want to know the big secret, stop reading now. We learn that Sara is dying of a disease. Of course just like Nelson’s apartment, this is one of those diseases that only exist in the movies. The symptoms fit the plot (here she gets migraines when they talk about her family), and now Sara and Nelson’s relationship moves forward a bit. Instead of him leaving of his own will, now Sara asks him to leave, and then he comes back. Take out the disease and the romance, and this could be turned into a stalker thriller. Speaking of which, where are the other men? If Sara has this much of an effect on men, why aren’t the previous months flocking around her? If she can get these results from Nelson, the other guys should be sending flowers weekly.
Well, the movie continues pretty predictably from here. The ending is a big letdown, because we’ve been set up to expect at least a deathbed scene. It ends pretty quickly, which comes as a relief to be sure, but after two hours of formula, you’d think the screenplay would finish it. Right before the ending, though, just when you think the movie has thrown in everything, Nelson comes up Sara’s fire escape with a big bag. Inside is, you guessed it, a dishwasher—the modern day equivalent of the kitchen sink.
Copyright © 2001 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.