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NOVEMBER

Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Courtney Cox, James LeGros, Michael Ealy, Nora Dunn, Nick Offerman, Anne Archer
Director: Greg Harrison
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Studio: Sony Home Entertainment
Features: See Review
Length: 78 Minutes
Release Date: December 20, 2005

Film ***

Certain films succeed on an experimental level, and November is such an example. The film is both a psychological thriller and a moody performance piece. The best way to describe it is a reverse version of Memento, but with a much different revelation towards the end.

Courtney Cox, who is best known for her work on the series friends, is a marvelous revelation in a performance that demands much emotional involvement. It’s a side of the actress nobody has seen, thus providing one of the treats of the film. And like her character, we are scratching our heads throughout the movie trying to figure out what is real and what is not.

The movie opens with a couple, Sophie (Cox) and Hugh (James LeGros) stopping at a convenience store on their way home one evening. Hugh gets out of the car and goes into the store to get a snack for Sophie. Just minutes after he Hugh walks through the store entrance, a mugger enters the store and shoots two victims, one of which turns out to be Hugh.

The remainder of the film deals with Sophie’s handling of the aftermath. She starts seeing a psychiatrist (Nora Dunn), and begins to reveal certain secrets of the past. She even reveals that at one point, she was unfaithful to Hugh.

By now, it appears as if the film is going to be a straightforward piece about how the woman will piece her life back together in the wake of this tragedy. But then a strange occurrence develops that veers the entire movie into another direction. At this point, November has veered into an extreme psychological area.

It all takes a turn as Sophie, a photographer and a teacher on the subject, is going through several student pictures through a slide show presentation. When she comes across a photo of the convenience store on the night of the murder, indicated by her car parked outside it, she doesn’t know what to think or say. How did the photo end up in the slide machine? Who took it? Does it have any significant value?

To reveal any more details would be a mistake on my part, so I will go no further in examining the plot. All I can say is be prepared for many bizarre turns as Sophie gets to the bottom of what’s going on. By the end, you may scratch your head a bit, as I did, but one you rewind for a second and think about everything, it will make sense in a strange way.

November is a frequently fascinating experimental film with a strong performance from Ms. Cox. Hopefully, this little seen film will get noticed by some and one of our favorite “Friends” will officially be on her way to bigger and better things.

Video **1/2

The film was shot on Digital Video, and for once I actually found the look a bit distracting and less effective than what such filmmakers like Michael Mann and Robert Rodriguez have accomplished in the filmmaking format. The anamorphic presentation from Sony is actually not that bad. It basically does what it can with the format. It’s far from spectacular, but then again it could’ve been a lot worse. Films shot in DV do have a place on DVD. Just look at the disc for Collateral and you’ll see what I mean.

Audio ***

The 5.1 mix does a terrific job in boosting the moody qualities of the film. The eerie score by composer Lew Baldwin is showcased in a most fantastic form here. Dialogue delivery is very much clear, and several instances of suspense also provide some standout moments.

Features ***

Included on this disc is a Technical "Making Of" Commentary with Director Greg Harrison and Cinematographer Nancy Schreiber, a Commentary with Director and Writer Conversation with Lew Baldwin, the Composer and Visual Effects artist, Photo Galleries and an Alternate Opening Sequence.

Summary:

November will either engage viewers or intensely frustrate them with its mind-bending storyline. Either way, there’s no denying the experimental values of the film, and the superbly revealing performance from Courtney Cox.

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