"Autumn in San Fran"
Sweet November
Review by Ross Anthony

Sweet NovemberOn our way to the screening, we stopped to help a motorist in distress, so I ended up being tardy to this film. Therefore you may wish to pro-rate its accuracy.

Charlize Theron finds herself a monthly project, rich work-aholic Keanu is November.

Keanu frustrated and un-amused by the carefree, spontaneous, potentially dangerous Theron reads, "What do you want with me?"

Charlize, "I just want to help you."

Keanu, "What makes you think I need helping?"

Charlize, "You're in a box. I'll lift the lid."

Keanu sarcastically replies, "Just hearing that makes me feel healed."

I like this script - sort of a "Harold and Maude"-lite. Very well paced, and carefully directed except for an abrupt, sorely reworked ending scene. Still, soft and bright like the cinematography, the film packs a lot of heart.

Charlize is stunning, lovable and professional; Jason Isaacs, awesome; little Liam superb; and Keanu, simply terrible. I've heretofore defended Keanu from the robust pool of criticism regarding his acting abilities. But, his performance in this film is clearly underwhelming. He delivers lines as if he'd just awaken from deep slumber and was handed the script even before a cup of coffee. Happily (and somewhat amazingly), despite the blunt deficiency of acting prowess in this effort, Keanu's resilient charm and good looks still command while on screen.

Done well, a crisp free and easy scene in which Charlize romps on the beach with a clan of beautifully groomed white show dogs. It's a wonderful way to impress upon us the theme, "If you want to enjoy life ... you've got to risk getting a little sand in your fur." Also of note, a short scene in which Keanu returns to his childhood home is accented nicely by Tony Bennett's "The other half of me" as a remembrance of Keanu's history with his dad. In fact, this is just one of other well-selected musical pieces on the soundtrack. Thirdly and fourthly, two advertising meetings - one where Keanu introduces the "Hot" dog ad campaign with fervor and passion, and the other where Keanu meets with the god of advertising. Keanu peaks in both of these masterfully crafted scenes.

Warm and cozy dialogue, direction, and apt cast, compensate for Keanu's acting shortcomings all the way up to, but not including, the ending bridge scene. The timing and pacing of which beats completely off-sync with the rest of the picture. Even the direction and editing lag here. Nice bridge though.

Would have been an "A-" were Keanu to have acted, but since he didn't, would have been a "B+" had the ending sequence been more aptly scripted and shot. Still I enjoyed what I enjoyed and will remember the sparkling zest for life and the strong heart of this picture.

  • Sweet November. Copyright © 2001. Rated PG-13.
  • Starring Keanu Reeves, Charlize Theron, Jason Isaacs, Greg Germann, Liam Aiken, Robert Joy, Lauren Graham.
  • Directed by Pat O'Connor.
  • Written by Kurt Voelker. Based on a screenplay by Herman Raucher.
  • Produced by Erwin Stoff, Deborah Aal, Steven Reuther, Elliot Kastner at Warner Brothers/Bel-Air/3-Arts.


Copyright © 2001. Ross Anthony, currently based in Los Angeles, has scripted and shot documentaries, music videos, and shorts in 35 countries across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. For more reviews visit: RossAnthony.com

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Last Modified: Saturday, 16-Sep-2006 07:54:42 PDT