Sweet November

Sweet November is a remake of the movie from the late 1960s of the same name. Unlike wine, this does not get better with age. The story is about Sara Deever and Nelson Moss, two polar opposites who fall in love. Moss (Keanu Reeves, The Gift, The Watcher) is an advertising executive. He is a workaholic with no sense of family or priorities in life. Deever (Charlize Theron, Men of Honor, The Yards) is a free spirit, living a carefree life in an apartment in San Francisco. She challenges Moss to live with her for the month of November, following all of her rules. She wants to change Moss for the better by helping him realize what he is missing in life. The one catch is that their relationship will only be for the month of November.

Theron and Reeves do not have chemistry, which sinks the movie. As an actor, Reeves fluctuates wildly in his acting ability. Here, his stilted elocution and penchance for substituting acting with arm and head gesticulations sink him. He should stick with roles that complement his abilities, like Neo in The Matrix, or with his gruff, scary persona in The Gift. Theron is fine, it is her character that does not work. Sweet November uses a plot device that surprisingly many movies use (especially surprising considering what it is). Director Pat O'Connor (Dancing at Lughnasa) and screenwriter Kurt Voelker must suspend the belief that everybody in the audience does not know what is going to happen or why Deever lives month to month. And, for anybody who actually does not know, the preview gives some big hints.

The man rediscovering what is important in life is a familiar theme, mined most recently in The Family Man and What Women Want (which also had the protagonist as an ad exec). Both, while not examples of great films, are better than Sweet November. Here, instead of developing a story and watching Moss change, O'Connor uses montages of scenes to signify the passage of time (which is only a couple days). So there is jerk/workaholic Nelson at the beginning, and loving/compassionate Nelson at the end, with little in the middle to justify a change. Just like many movie men, Moss is incredibly stupid for somebody so smart. The story cooks up many contrivances so that he has a real reason to stay with Deever, and none of them seem plausible, even for the movie. Their meeting at a DMV also comes across as lame. Oh, and there is the stereotypical gay friend (Jason Isaacs, The Patriot, The End of the Affair) that does nothing else but show support, just like in every other movie with a gay friend.

Haro Rates It: Pretty Bad.
2 hours, Rated PG-13 for sexual content and language.

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