Eye For Film >> Movies >> Super November (2017) Film Review
Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson
Girl meets boy. Girl compares boy to a "granite statue of a firm but fair prime minister". Girl's flatmate, boy, not convinced. Girl, boy, flatmate, 'firm', 'fair', 'prime minister' all subject to change. Those changes come to a head in the 11th month, the titular Super November.
Written by Josie Long, a debut feature for her and for her previous collaborator Douglas King, there's a relationship comedy in here, and a dissolute early thirties flat-share comedy that's overwhelming more satisfying than any 'if Friends were set in a more local conurbation' listicle, and a boot stamping on a human face, forever, but maybe after slipping on a banana skin, or more properly spending some time being really anxious about what the boot is actually saying. This is so well observed that I feel fair expressing concerns about the choices of font in certain official publications - a genuine typographic unkindness on my part, and one I feel bad for making because there's a record collection and that record collection is stored in IKEA's EXPEDIT rather than IKEA's successor book-case KALLAX which is the kind of thing that's important to recognise because the outer frame is thinner and it can really throw a room's proportions off and people like me know when folk like those in Super November are likely to have bought it. (Not just the year, that they probably went on a weekend in their dad's van, and there was an argument about loading that's always brought to mind if anyone ruminates about hot dogs for too long).
Long and Sean Biggerstaff and Darren Osborne star (girl and boy and flatmate), but so does Glasgow (dear old Glasgow town) - not just winsome bits like Kelvinbridge in the eyes of someone in love, but Clydebank Library (where Josie's Josie works), Tradeston too - though that mostly comes in when everything has gone to pot, and what a pot it is.
Eye For Film saw Super November at its world premiere, a gala performance at Glasgow's Film Festival. Extended inclement weather meant that Josie couldn't attend, but that general air of not-quite-going-right is ably and expertly constructed. In tiny details, some less subtle than the apparent age of bits of furniture, from expense accounts to a very particular football focus on a labour dispute, in appearances and disappearances explained by things off-screen, a sense of something special is created. If they pay very close attention, viewers of a certain age will recognise a telephone number, and similarly the mystery of why anyone would call a house phone will ring a bell with many.
Fans of Long's work will not be disappointed - her distinct sensibilities are well reflected here, but those who saw her at her last Glasgow show might be disappointed that even though this film features an escape there was possibly a clearance issue that means neither Rupert Holmes nor pina coladas feature. Though booze does, in quantities large enough to explain why someone might try to get to Mount Florida by boat.
That's not the only disconnect - Super November has already been described by some as a film of two parts, but that's not a fair characterisation. There's a before, and an after, and a gap in the middle, but it's one story - girl meets boy. The fact that there's a comprehensive failure of democracy going on at the same time is just charmingly coincidental.
With a soundtrack by Pictish Trail, with credits that justifiably include roles like 'Ghost Adulterer', 'Stunt Feet', 'Communist Fisherman', with small roles for faces of various degrees of fame - Janey Godley and Sanjiv Kohli amongst the local names, but even Princess Diana makes a cameo. There are name checks for Jimmy Reid, and some not-real books about real subjects inform the utterly convincing production design, and I'm rattling on - this is lovely.
We've had the end of the world in Glasgow before - though Super November is far closer to the suburban suave of Death Watch than the power-ballad bombast of Doomsday. That the production firm is called Caledonian Mumblecore is a signal of intent - plenty of folk in rooms, talking, and undeniably Scottish and, well, brilliant. Some of that talking is potentially remarkably sweary - to Glaswegian ears it felt about right, but some might balk. It's perfectly pitched and structurally sound, but arguments about this sort of thing are apparently preventing UK audiences from seeing Annihilation. An audience who are confident with films that expect something of their audience will be fine, if you're on the Venn diagram of people who like books or good films or Josie Long or creative swearing or one of those lucky enough to have seen any of Douglas King's short films (and that's a pretty tight set of overlaps) you should go. Even being awkward in real life shouldn't stop you from seeing Super November.
A micro-budget marvel, a testament to invention and ingenuity and perseverence and a firm sign that comedy can be found in the strangest of times and the most normal of places, Super November is, well, super. At once perfectly simple and properly complicated, this is the kind of film where one wants to try to coin a highly specific genre name like zom-rom-com, but the best I've got is jack-boot meet-cute.Reviewed on: 05 Mar 2018
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