Movie Review: Sweet November (E)

Plot Outline:

Nelson (Keanu Reeves) high-flying, cold blooded ad-exec bumps into free spirit Sara (Charlize Theron) in a DMV test. Sara spots Nelson as an overworked jerk who needs to learn more about life and offers him to stay with her for a month as her ‘November’.

Although reluctant initially, Nelson allows himself in after losing a campaign and his job in a fit of rage. Nelson sure comes to Sara’s ways and falls for her, but against her expectations, she too ends up falling for him. Other characters include Sara’s neighbor Chaz, a happier guy from Nelson’s Industry, Abner, the neighborhood kid, a couple of transvestites, and Nelson’s parasitical colleague Vince.


I’d never heard of this movie till in late-2003 when a friend actually recommended this one as a must see. The story with its typical characters like an overworked-ambitious workaholic, a terminally ill carefree female who doesn’t need to work, a cool headed and successful competitor from the same industry, a couple of weird people like the transvestites and a kid to whom Nelson plays surrogate father make the story quite predictable similar to the staple ones of Bollywood. What makes it different is a character like Sara who spots ‘troubled’ people and offers them to live with her for a month and change them. Well, if not in a movie, Nelson wouldn’t have probably agreed to move in with a complete stranger, that too a clumsy weirdo like her.

Although the movie is professed as a love story, I am yet to understand the Director’s perspective of love in the movie. Nelson could have fallen for Sara just because he was in deep trouble in his life with career and relationship failures that he found an opening in a care free Sara who on the other hand dated people to feel the need for control. Should love be either circumstantial like for Nelson or the woman on top approach of Sara? By saying this, I’m sure the folks who would rather love a tear-jerker would be offended. The lead Reeves, with his usual confused look seems more like Neo than Nelson. Charlize Theron is the best thing about this movie who although clumsy is yet likeable.

Putting aside shortcomings in narrative and character development, the film makes some points. (i) Work, but do it for a living and don’t live in it, (ii) Stop by to see life from another’s perspective, (iii) Weird friends could be better than the parasitic ones, (iv) Stronger decisions need innate conviction like the way Nelson turns down Edgar Price and (v) finally, that life with all its limitations is much better than we usually think. One needs to watch this movie at home on video with the least possible disturbance if one has to try appreciating this movie from the characters’ point of view.

Rating: 3/5 –Mushy and Predictable, but tells a story. Check out Charlize Theron.