San Franciscan workaholic Nelson Moss (Keanu Reeves) loves power-pitching to smarmy execs, mixing with his yuppie co-workers, and neglecting anyone who shows him a shred of emotion - especially his girlfriend Angelica (Lauren Graham). Nelson doesn't realise just how empty his life is until carefree gal Sara Deever (Charlize Theron) comes along and offers a proposal. Move in with her for the month of November and she'll change his life forever. Nelson accepts the challenge, but is ready for the romantic consequences? Based on the 1968 Sandy Dennis film of the same name.
"For those with a nuclear-grade patience and a keen sense of humour, Sweet November should be endured only to witness Keanu Reeves' hilariously wooden performance as leading man. I've said it before and I'll say it again; don't let Keanu make love. Make him a "Whoa, dude!" time traveller. Throw him on a speeding bus. Download him into a computerised nightmare. Even make him a redneck psycho. But never - I repeat NEVER - romance him. He's out of his emotional depth as a romantic lead, stiffening up like a thick, flat and blank piece of wood. Didn't the casting agents see A Walk in the Clouds? It's painful watching Reeves croon to a pop song for his lucky gal. But if you can brave the saccharine storm, he presents an amusing caricature. Then again Keanu stands alongside Charlize Theron, as luminous as ever as a serial monogamist and free spirit who loves turning cartwheels on the beach (the international sign of the free spirit?). Given the sappiest dialogue to work with, Theron relies on her considerable beauty, and the camera milks her every misty close-up for all it's worth. That's not the only cheap trick Sweet November employs to dupe you. Reeves pitches to a hot dog manufacturer by wanting to market wieners as phallic treats ("We need a sinful, dangerous food…"). What? Jason Isaacs plays a token gay neighbour, complete with cute little mutt (from As Good as It Gets), and Liam Aiken plays a fatherless little boy. To its only credit, the filmmakers show the effects of Sara's illness at close range during a love scene. Considering that such illnesses are frequently glamorised in film, it's a scene of rare honesty. It unfortunately one of the few distinguishing features in Sweet November."
Shannon J Harvey
"To say Sweet November is disappointing would be a huge understatement.
Theoretically the film should work – it has two bankable stars in Keanu Reeves and
Charlize Theron, it’s directed by Pat O’Connor whose credits include Cal and
Inventing the Abbots, and it was made once before (in 1968). But for all that, this new
effort is a blunder. The film’s original vintage (think Love Story) may give some
hint about its subject-matter; and frankly it’s been done so many times before, it
looks weary. Worse than that, this new version is just plain dull. The set-up is
implausible; the heart of the film stock standard; and the ending pure treacly cliché.
Clocking in at just on 2 hours, the film is far too long for the lightweight script and
moves at such a maddeningly slow pace, I barely suppressed the urge to scream. The film
does have a few things going for it. Jason Isaacs puts in a sterling effort as Chaz,
Sara’s caring neighbour (although he falls foul of a ludicrous plot development), the
San Francisco locations look great and Liam Aiken (the kid from Henry Fool) has a nice
cameo. Charlize Theron displays her considerable talent yet again, but she really needs to
be making better choices. Keanu Reeves however is deadly dreary as Nelson; and his marked
lack of chemistry with Theron doesn’t help an already ailing picture. Their romance
is so tepid, I was wondering what could possibly have drawn them in the first place. Sweet
November is a forgettable exercise in sickening formulaic filmmaking – and
there’s nothing sweet about that."
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SWEET NOVEMBER (M)
CAST: Keanu Reeves, Charlize Theron, Jason Isaacs, Greg Germann
DIRECTOR: Pat O'Connor
PRODUCER: Elliott Kastner, Steven Reuther, Deborah Stoff, Erwin Stoff
SCRIPT: Kurt Voelker (story and screenplay), Paul Yurick (story), Herman Raucher (1968
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Edward Lachman
EDITOR: Anne V. Coates
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Naomi Shohan
MUSIC: Christopher Young
RUNNING TIME: 120 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: April 12, 2001
VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Warner Home Video
VIDEO RELEASE: October 31, 2001