Sweet November
Floored. Keanu and Charlize grapple with comedy and tragedy...
dir Pat O'Connor
scr Kurt Voelker
with Keanu Reeves, Charlize Theron, Jason Isaacs, Greg Germann, Liam Aiken, Frank Langella, Michael Rosenbaum, Robert Joy, Lauren Graham, Jason Kravits, Ray Baker, Adele Proom
release US 16.Feb.01; UK 13.Jul.01
01/US 1h59

2 out of 5 stars
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
To combine the quirky and the tragic in a love story, you've got to know what you're doing. And these filmmakers just aren't up to the job. Nelson (Reeves) is a workaholic San Francisco ad man rescued from his burnout lifestyle by the screwy Sara (Theron), who takes on a new man each month to help him fix his life. Nelson is a tough nut to crack, worrying about his career, making meetings with his partner (Germann) to see a local advertising god (Langella) about a new job. But maybe Sara is getting through to him after all. Then shadows begin lurking everywhere, there's something she isn't telling him, and a rather too-friendly neighbour (Isaacs) is hanging around.

The first third of the film actually works well, as the characters are set up, introduced to each other and lock horns in a friendly battle of wits. Then it's all downhill from there as romance rears its predictable head ... without even the smallest spark of chemistry between Reeves and Theron, who are otherwise fine. Soon the script is grabbing everything it can find to try and get us on their side before the requisite terminal illness (!) pops up. There are other serious plot problems, but the main missteps here are O'Connor's insistence on keeping things breezy and "magical" and Voelker's screenplay, which is contrived and hokey. And then painful. The film's final section is excruciatingly soppy ("Every month is November, Sara!"). The cast keeps it vaguely watchable, with fine support from Isaacs (steely and interesting), Germann (doing his Richard Fish routine yet again) and Aiken (as the weird-needy little kid next door). But by the end you'll wish you'd gone to see Pokemon instead.
adult themes and situations cert 12 9.Jul.01

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"Modern day man becomes good man, redemption through a good woman. Well worth a view - it all seems a bit predictable to begin with, but you warm to it. Keanu Reeves really plays the work-consumed advertising executive to the hilt - and it all has a tongue in cheek feel in the early stages, I guess because it has that formulaic feel. He naturally is opened up to another life by hippy chick Charlize Theron, but it mainly works in the latter stages. Not perfect, but some good bits." --Matt Dowson, Yorkshire 10.Aug.01
2001 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall