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November - Preview & US reaction



Preview by: Jack Foley

COURTNEY Cox-Arquette takes a radical departure from her Friends persona in the new independent film, November, which opened in US cinemas at the weekend.

The film, shot on mini-DV in only 15 days in quintessential guerilla manner, is billed as a stylish thriller in the style of Memento and Mulholland Drive.

Cox-Arquette stars as Sophie Jacobson, whose boyfriend Hugh (James Le Gros) is shot and killed one night in a convenience store while she waits in the car.

Despute being traumatized by the incident, Sophie resolves to go on with her life as best she can but is plagued by headaches and strange episodes that increasingly impair her everyday life.

After resuming her job as a photography teacher at the local college, she is confronted by a photograph taken the night of the shooting.

And as she investigates further, to find out who took it, the answer sets off a string of events that defy explanation.

The script for November was written by screenwriter, Benjamin Brand, a long-time friend of producer, Danielle Renfrew, who had the story in his mind ever since 1995, when he came across a New York Times article about a convenience store robbery.

After giving the script to Renfrew and director Greg Harrison, both found it to be an intriguing story as well as a viable independent film.

 

US reaction

Critics in America were divided over the merits of November, while even those that liked it didn't compare it to the likes of Memento or Mulholland Drive.

Falling on the negative side was the Hollywood Reporter, which opined that 'the problem lies with the story these filmmakers choose to tell'.

While slightly more favourable was Variety, which felt that it was 'a stylistic tour de force dedicated more to constructing a cinematic puzzle than to providing dramatic satisfaction'.

Village Voice, however, wrote that 'November runs out of surprises well before it climaxes, and by the third go-round the plot's thinness is all that's left to illuminate'.

While Slant Magazine felt that 'the film proves that Harrison's insufferable Groove was no fluke'.

More positive, however, was Efilmcritic.com, which stated that 'director, Harrison, gives November a terrific look, with an extra helping of dark and moody. In fact, the look of the movie is probably its most impressive aspect'.

And Entertainment Weekly opined: "The performances are crisp and in focus, with Cox in particular showing a photogenic feel for expressing grief."

But the Los Angeles Times accused it of being 'more concerned with being clever than satisfying'.

And the Boston Globe warned: "Beware serious movies starring former sitcom stars. Beware thrillers about photographers. Bewares movies set in convenience stores."

The final word, however, goes to the New York Post which concludes this overview with the verdict: "There's no real payoff - artistically or emotionally - in Gregory Harrison's gimmicky and tedious psychological thriller November, shot on ugly digital video."

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