Sweet November

Directed by Pat O'Connor
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Charlize Theron, Jason Isaacs, Greg Germann, Liam Aiken.
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sexual content and language.

Review by Matt Heffernan <matt@filmhead.com>
February 22, 2001

While I work on my own film projects, and then sit and ruminate about the upcoming Academy Awards, I have to take time out to review a film like Sweet November. Last year, I reviewed Autumn in New York, and I'm experiencing a sense of déjà vu that I'm sure most of my colleagues have right now. It seems almost redundant to review this nearly identical film, even though it was directly based on a 1968 film that I haven't seen. Same deal as before: boy meets girl, girl dies, boy learns a valuable lesson in love and life; this time, however, the boy is Keanu Reeves, which only makes matters worse. Like Autumn in New York, the entire plot of Sweet November is revealed by the trailer. At this point, the only reason I can see to review this film is to make it Part One of the Greg Germann Remake Weekend. He plays the same character he plays in "Ally McBeal" in both Sweet November and the latest adaptation of Heaven Can Wait -- Down to Earth -- which also came out last weekend. So, for the benefit of this series, I shall continue.

Keanu Reeves stretches into the role of obnoxious ad executive Nelson Moss. His high-stress lifestyle finally catches up to him when he proposes an asinine campaign for a hot dog company, involving entirely too much phallic imagery. Luckily, this was after a chance meeting at the DMV with the cute and free-spirited Sara Deever (Charlize Theron), so now he has somebody to turn to after getting fired.

Sara's modus operandi is to take in men for up to one month at a time, change their lives, then set them free. Nelson is now officially "November". Obvious to everybody but him, this method insures that Sara never lets anybody get too close to her at the moment of her impending death, yet still gives her the semblance of romance in her final days. Guess what happens when November runs out.

Actually, you don't have to guess, because the trailer showed you. Nelson finds out about her condition, then insists on sticking around after November 30 and proposes to marry her, even though she's way past her sell-by date. So what does the full cut of the film have to offer besides this? Why, nothing, of course. I mean, c'mon. This is a Keanu Reeves movie we're talking about! Without any computer-assisted kung fu bullet dodging, there is nothing really worth watching.

If you can imagine it, Sweet November goes about telling this story in an even more clichéd and boring manner than Autumn in New York. Could the original have been much better? I think not, and this remake seems quite unwarranted.

The only reason I see was to cast Greg Germann as Keanu's asshole partner at the law firm... I mean, ad agency. I really like Germann as an actor (his work in Jesus' Son was quite good), but he is getting severely typecast. Now, let's see him play the same part in a remake of a great film that was most definitely unwarranted. I present Part Two of this series: Down to Earth.


For more information, go to the Internet Movie Database:
Sweet November (2001)

Here's some merchandise for sale at Amazon.com
Sweet November (2001) -- VHS
Sweet November (2001) -- DVD
Sweet November: Soundtrack -- Compact Disc


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Review © 2001 Matt Heffernan