Cinerama: Sweet November

Posted: September 12, 2009 in Cinerama

Sweet November

By Mike Derderian

November is no longer sweet, for people are hungry and have nothing to eat. Death sat crying at the corner of a crumbling building in Amman. His lifeless eyes saw how the deformed bodies were flung everywhere. As he approached the moaning spirits his fleshless feet became drenched by the blood and lard of torn human flesh. Unsheathing his ancient scythe Death started to reap the sprouting spirits.

Like Death I felt sad because I was struck with sorrow when a close friend of mine passed away: Anahid Voskeretchian, a scholarly old lady, who enjoyed discussing with me world issues, youth’s concerns and my writings every time we met, died this month at the age of 87.

I wasn’t able to visit her during the past four months and when I was told that she passed away in her sleep I didn’t know what to say. I was thinking of her a week prior to her death. I was returning from work when I thought of paying her a visit. Sadly I dismissed the idea and headed home… I wish I hadn’t done so.

Now I will never see her again or hear the stern, yet friendly, voice that outshined her tiny figure as she reproached me for the complexity of my thoughts. “You are an enigma for me… there is something in you that I cannot quite clearly pinpoint,” Anahid once told me before ordering me to sink my teeth in a chocolate cookie and drink my coffee.

A few weeks later Amman was raped when four human-beasts decided to detonate bombs at three different hotels killing over fifty people and injuring hundreds. This was the second event that struck me with sadness, for I love this country.

Two days after bleak Wednesday’s bombings, Syrian-born American director Moustapha Akkad, who sustained a sever injury in his neck during the terrorist act, died of his wounds. Akkad is remembered best because of his immortal cinematic masterpieces The Message (1976) and The Lion of the Desert (1981), as well for the Halloween horror franchise that he produced.

The fourth occurrence that added to my sadness was watching Pat O’Connor’s 2001 heartbreaking Sweet November starring Keanu Reeves, Charlize Theron, Jason Isaacs, Greg Germann, Liam Aiken, Michael Rosenbaum and Frank Langella.

These 119-minutes of hundred percent love, philosophy and tragedy is a must-see-movie that everyone should watch, especially those who find themselves too absorbed in their work. It’s a tear-breaker. Once you reach the end you’ll believe me.

Sweet November is about the collision of two different worlds and two persons: Nelson Moss (Reeves) and Sara Deever (Theron). He works in the advertisement business and is a workaholic—quite my opposite—while she simply wants to live her life—kind-a-like me.

One day, and thanks to an unpleasant confrontation, Nelson meets Sara. Life is never the same for this successful young man. For no apparent reason Sara likes to help men with low self-esteem by allowing them to live with her for one month during which she teaches them how to cherish and enjoy life to the fullest. After the month is over they are out and life goes on.

Sara, the calendar girl, decided that Nelson, who is a rather tough case, is her Mr November. The reason why she chose to help is not because he has a low self-esteem but because he is over confident, doesn’t care about other people’s feelings, especially women, and is so much into his work. Sara wants to make him a better person, who can appreciate life more.

O’Connor’s movie by the way is a remake of a 1968 film with the same title. It reunites Reeves and Theron, whom both starred in the 1997 hair-raising cult thriller The Devil’s Advocate, in which they played the role of a married couple.

“Why a month?” Nelson asks. “Because it’s long enough to be meaningful but short enough to stay out of trouble,” Sara answers. At first he refuses, however, after losing his job and girlfriend on the same day he yields to her doggedness and moves in with her.

Lacking mind mesmerizing visuals despite of its flashy title the movie’s storyline and dialogue makes all the difference and helps keep the viewer ensconced in their seat. Theron’s portrayal of the whacky bigger than life Sara will appeal to those who might find that their life lacks the excitement the character is providing on screen.

Some stiff critics might argue that people like Sara don’t exist whereas in truth they are everywhere and are living among us disguised as normal people, in fear from inquisition trials and burning-at-the-stake shindigs conducted by people with limited minds.

Reeves’s performance was commendable; at the start of the movie you’d really hate him but halfway through you’ll find him endearing, especially when he develops a friendship with Sara’s fatherless little neighbor Abner (Aiken).

Isaacs’s character Chaz Watley, Sara’s friendly neighbor, came out as emotional knowing that he is a drag queen. Unless they paid him loads of money I don’t know how they ever made him wear the sequined sensation? You’ll know what I mean when you see it.

Near the end of this emotional movie a one-liner delivered by Sara produces a brief revelation regarding our lives and the people we know that we all should abide to and live in hopes of fulfilling it. “You are my immortality Nelson,” Sara tells Nelson in a gentle and concerned tone.

Must-see-scene: All the scenes involving Sara and Nelson; Abner’s remote control boat race; Nelson’s business meeting with the Diggity Dog Company; and the scene when Nelson discovers what Sara is hiding in her locked cabinet.

PS: the film is PG-13 and for a good reason so when you are watching this film offer your child sufficient advice.


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