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
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
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
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