Greg Harrison cites Nicholas Roeg's Dont Look Now and Steven Soderbergh's The Limey as his creative inspiration whilst making his second feature, a low-budget artsy psychological thriller.

Courteney Cox plays Sophie Jacobs, an LA photographer, is struggling to come to terms with the murder of her boyfriend (James LeGros) during a corner store robbery. The story plays out over a short period of time, during which she deals with the guilt of having an affair, the ongoing police investigation and the appearance of a photograph that appears to show her outside the store on the night of the killing.

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To fully explain the plot of November wouldn't do justice to its audience, or to the film. To give you an insight: Sophie suffers flashbacks and hallucinations as she struggles with her memory to create a recognisable reality that will help her transcend the trauma of the murder. Watching the film is like flicking through a photographer's portfolio, some scenes/shots catch your eye and hold your attention, others pass at a glance. It's symbolic of Sophie's state of mind and the way in which she tries to deal with it.

Fragmented in structure, scenes flutter back and forth, putting an alternative spin on things, as director Harrison's choice of storytelling plays with the narrative. At first, it's exciting to see how he uses the camera to subvert the mind and express how Sophie's subconscious is beginning to shatter, but it's hard to maintain this pace for 82-minutes without seeming too clever for its own good. Playing with intrigue and confusion requires a visionary eye and Harrison is no David Lynch. He should leave this sort of thing to the master of the Lost Highway.

A film about a photographer should contain visually arresting images and November certainly does. Using primary colours, it is beautifully shot by cinematographer Nancy Schreiber. Captured on mini-DV, the film uses natural light and fully makes use of the locations, such as the corner store that's washed out in a green tint, creating a very murky atmosphere and giving the scenes more dramatic edge.

November is similar to abstract art and will engage people for part of the time and possibly cause some debate, but there isn't enough substance for it to truly hold an audience, or captivate them long enough to stay involved in Sophie's search for the truth, no matter how good the production values - believe me, they are good.

Although oceans away from Monica in Friends, Cox's performance won't change the face of dramatic acting, while the rest of the cast are mere pieces in an all-too-clever puzzle.

November is a disappointment and cannot avoid being accused of style over substance. You just wish that Harrison had spent more time working on the script than setting up his next camera angle.

Reviewed on: 08 Mar 2006
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November packshot
The truth lies outside the frame.
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Director: Greg Harrison

Writer: Benjamin Brand

Starring: Courteney Cox, James LeGros, Michael Ealy, Nora Dunn, Nick Offerman, Anne Archer, Matthew Carey

Year: 2004

Runtime: 73 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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