Release Date: February 16, 2001
Genre: Romantic Tragedy
Audience: Teenagers & adults
Runtime: 102 minutes
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Director: Oat O’Connor
Executive Producer: Wendy Wanderman
Writer: Kurt Voelker
Address Comments To:Barry A. Meyer, Chairman/CEO
Warner Bros., Inc.
4000 Warner Blvd.
Burbank, CA 91522-0001
Phone: (818) 954-6000
The story begins as breezy bohemian Sara Deever (Charlize Theron) disrupts a traffic school class exam as she takes her seat while carrying several bags of groceries into the room. She prominently displays a crib sheet to workaholic advertising executive Nelson Moss (Keanu Reeves), who promptly takes the bait, asks Sara for the answer to a question and causes her to be ejected from the class.
Capitalizing on the implied guilt she thinks Nelson should feel for causing her to lose her driver’s license for a month, Sara makes a scene at his apartment building. She threatens him with further harassment if he doesn’t transport her to an animal heist she stages at a New York animal laboratory. Her obsession with liberating pets from cruel lab experiments gives her character an endearing quality, but this quality does not overcome the implausibility of Nelson later succumbing to her emotional blackmail and then falling in love with her.
“I make the rules,” says Sara, a charming Jezebel, as she later inveigles Nelson into spending the night with her, despite his misgivings and despite his girlfriend who has been threatening to leave him because of his obsession with work. Audiences then discover that Sara indeed has a thing going on, when she reveals to Nelson that “Mitch was my October.” She then lays a romantic trap for the hapless Nelson, who falls squarely into it when he is subsequently fired from his advertising job and finds that his girlfriend has left, but viewers do not learn why Nelson changes from his initial hostility toward Sara to his fascination with her bohemian, vegan lifestyle, to his eventual love for her.
Why does Sara shack up with one man after another in month-long romantic flings? Her motivation emerges toward the end of the movie, which includes a sweetly tragic ending.
If the filmmakers of SWEET NOVEMBER were counting on Valentine’s Day nostalgia for a wholesome storyline to energize their movie, they miscalculated. The storyline presupposes that romance in the year 2001 must include immediate sexual intimacy between two strangers and gratuitous homosexual transvestite scenes from peripheral characters which don’t advance the story one iota. Although a woman’s desire to convert a man from emotional isolation to romantic entanglement is commendable, this story just doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. Its premise is nebulous, and the romance is forced.
Any woman would be glad to hear her man tell her, “I live for one thing: to love you and to make you happy,” as Nelson eventually tells Sara toward the end, but his ascent to that pitch of romantic ardor within two weeks from his state as an emotional cold fish solely because Sara lavishes her undivided attention on him, and meets his every need (almost as if she were conducting a clinical experiment) is utterly implausible, and thus shallow.
Where is God in this story? Shouldn’t he be involved in putting a man together with a woman? Can there be deep romantic commitment between two people without invoking His love, and His purposes for both lives? What makes a man and a woman stick together in a lifelong commitment? It’s not just fun sex and slavishly attending to the other person’s needs. Surely, it’s fulfilling the Creator’s purposes.
A quirky romantic tragedy, SWEET NOVEMBER is superficially charming, but ultimately lacks plausibility. The movie also presupposes that romance in the year 2001 must include immediate sexual intimacy between two strangers and gratuitous homosexual transvestite scenes from peripheral characters which don’t advance the story one iota. SWEET NOVEMBER also contains some foul language, strong sexual immorality, a strong romantic worldview, and politically-correct elements, partly having to do with Sara’s bohemian lifestyle