30 July 2005 | noralee
Neat Little Twisty Emotional Mystery
"November" is a neat little twisty thriller that lets us inside post traumatic stress.
Director Greg Harrison uses visuals very effectively around a sympathetically volatile Courteney Cox as a photographer/teacher, much more evocatively than M. Night Shyamalan does in a similar genre. He draws on but doesn't imitate "Blow Up," "Eyes of Laura Mars" and Robin Williams' other photo developer movie "The Final Cut," with the blood red as a memory trigger like in Hitchcock's "Marnie."
Photographs are particularly used as a trompe l'oeil that visually matches our guessing to what we think we know is happening in the story or did happen in a store robbery. Harrison is particularly good at showing how emotions, particularly guilt, color our perceptions and influence our memories.
Anne Archer, as Cox's mother, does a marvelous take on how almost the same scene can be shaded in different ways. And it's always nice to hear a Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings funk song repeated.
The chapter headings of the stages of grief border on precious, but do provide a framework for Cox's feelings. So you are more prepared emotionally for the surprising ending, like an Ambrose Bierce story, than manipulated as in a film like "The Others."
The rundown downtown Los Angeles locations, especially at night, enhance the darkness of the story. The score works very well to keep the tension high.
I always stay for all the credits of films, but the slow, endless crawl at the end even defeated my patience.