Sweet November


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

A workaholic ad exec meets a zany blonde by mistake. She invites him to move in with her for four weeks. "You live in a box," she says. "I could lift the lid."

He can't get away fast enough. But then, when he thinks about it, she's funny and sexy and not stupid.

"You could become emotionally extinct," she tells him, meaning the guy's committed to his work and nothing else.

"I have a girlfriend," he says.

"I pity her," she says.

This repartee carries on for a while.

"Besides your job, what else makes you miserable?" she asks.

He won't admit it, but she comes up with snappier one-liners than the black-haired babe (Lauren Graham) who shares his bed.

This man is driven. Later, he gives a speech about how his father used to lock himself in a room and listen to crooners on old 45s, which made him want to become a singer.

"To please your dad?"

It's the obvious question. He denies it. But what does he know? He's too far away from his feelings.

In the office, he is dictatorial, snapping decisions off the top of his head, striding about the place as if war has already been declared. He doesn't notice that his sidekick (Greg Germann) is a weasle and the business of thinking up slogans for second rate product unedifying

Things happen that make his skills temporarily defunct. Rather than sulk alone in his grey apartment, he moves over to her place, which is sunny and bright. She likes animals, so there are dogs and a cat. She likes kids, so there is a boy (Liam Aiken) next door, who needs a father figure. Her best friend is a Scottish transvestite (Jason Isaacs), who lives on the ground floor. She has a secret, which clouds the future, but she doesn't talk about that. She likes having men in her life for a month and then dumping them before it gets serious.

"Would you like to be my November?" she asks him.

Pass the sick bag.

Romantic comedies need chemistry. Mel Gibson and Helen Hunt had it in What Women Want. Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant had it in spades. Keanu Reeves and Charlize Theron look fake from the start. He's hulky and shirtless much of the time - not really, but it feels that way. She acts her socks off and yet the zany quality, that was a walk in the park for Hepburn, seems like a struggle for her.

The story is so predictable you wait for that running-through-the-spray on the beach scene with dread and could choose the girly ballads on the soundtrack with pinpoint accuracy. Nothing is surprising, except that someone watched a 1968 weepie on TV with Anthony Newley and Sandy Dennis and thought it so great, they remade it in San Francisco with the wrong actors and a script that reeks of sitcom.

"You don't have to understand it," she says. "You just have to let it happen."

Well, it doesn't.

Reviewed on: 11 Jul 2001
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Sweet November packshot
A zany blonde with a mysterious illness invites a workaholic ad exec to live with her for a month.
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Director: Pat O'Coonor

Writer: Kurt Voelker, based on a screenplay by Herman Raucher

Starring: Keanu Reeves, Charlize Theron, Jason Isaacs, Greg Germann, Liam Aiken, Robert Joy, Lauren Graham, Michael Rosenbaum, Frank Langella, Jason Kravits, Ray Baker

Year: 2001

Runtime: 119 minutes

BBFC: 12 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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