‘sweet November’ Is Not So Sweet

by Heatherstone

“SweetNovember” is the story of a bad boy who falls for a terminally sickgirl, is forced to rethink his “bad boy” lifestyle and in the end,because of her, magically converts into every woman’s dream.

Sound familiar? Kind of like last year’s “Autumn in New York”?Well, like “Autumn in New York,” the problem with “Sweet November” isthat the story just isn’t believable. Not in this day and age, inwhich audiences have access to so many movies and expectations aremuch higher.

The intention behind “November” is a good one, and that is to betouching. A film can be touching, but it also needs to be plausible.Therein lies the center of the film’s implausibility: Keanu Reeves.(Think of the non-emotional, monotone Reeves of “Bill and Ted’sExcellent Adventure” spouting off lines like “All I want is you.”)Perhaps if the complex role of Nelson Moss wasn’t left up to him, thetransformation wouldn’t have been so quick and unbelievable, soovertly dramatic and so one-dimensional. Not only does Reeves lackmore than one tone of voice, he also lacks the ability to play morethan one type of character.

There are no fight scenes or car chases in this film, just Nelsonand Sara (Charlize Theron) — two people drawn together by somethingthat is never made clear and is therefore unconvincing. Sara pursuesNelson almost desperately, but he fights her advances and outlandishproposals with a seeming indifference to it all. Then, quitesuddenly, he is intrigued enough to give her a chance. But where thesudden intrigue comes from is unknown. Theron, on the other hand,pulls off a performance that is real and believable. As Sara, she isfree spirited and at times a little obnoxious, but always sweet andlikable. She is one of those characters who lives life to thefullest, and in doing so, teaches Nelson to do the same. The filmbrings up the token inner conflict of career and money versus life.Overall, as a love story or a character study, “Sweet November” wouldhave probably been much stronger with a different leading man.

–Angela Carroll