Though the tag line "she just needed a month to change his life forever" draws audience's interests Pat O'Connor's 'Sweet November' is too full of syrupy chiches and tragicomedy. It looks phony rather than heartwarming.
Keanu Reeves plays Nelson Moss, an arrogant workaholic in San Francisco. He makes sexist ads for his advertising firm and dreams of making it big in the industry. This ambition is the only purpose of his existence and all the other elements like his live-in girlfriend are put in the back burner for his career.
Charlize Theron's Sara Deever is of an entirely different formula. She is the free-spirited and mysterious beauty who enters his life in November. Their meeting is comical because Nelson leans over to get the answer for a question during a driver's licenses renewal examination from Sara.
Unfortunately Sara has to pay the price for Nelson's actions because she is banned from the examination hall and has to retake the test after 30 days.
The two get off on the wrong foot because Nelson's too narcissistic to acknowledge his misdeed. He is forced to help her out when she seeks vengeance by demanding rides from him. Guilt ridden he helps her out.
When Sara proposes living with him for one month with no strings attached to cure him of his mechanical life and help find happiness and peace in the simplicities of life Nelson is quite taken aback. Though he is intrigued by her Nelson refuses to commit to the deal at first. He eventually gives into the offer. Though he finds her lifestyle strange he is attracted by the doe eyed beauty. The fact that his current girlfriend dumps him and his boss fires him also helps make up his mind.
The movie can be divided into two sections. The first half deals with constructing Nelson's masculine image. The second half focuses upon his vulnerable nature and human qualities. However things are too late by then because a dreadful truth larks waiting to be unveiled to Nelson as well as the audience that life is not as picture perfect as it seems.
O'Connor could have planned the plot in a more convincing manner when he structured his production. The story is utterly unconvincing and lacks depth. It is also a waste to use artistes like Reeves and Theron in projects of this nature because they are powerhouses of talent.
Though they have great chemistry to share, the storyline does not help in making 'Sweet November' a thrilling watch.
The tables are turned towards the end and the incidents which follow are bewildering for the audience.
This actually eclipses the tear jerking effect intended by the filmmakers.
One of the silver linings of 'Sweet November' is that there is room for us to question the wisdom of the decision that Sara takes.
The door for doubt is open by revealing that all is not well in Sara's life and that she too is hiding several skeletons in her closet. The lonely figure of a sad yet humane Nelson walking away from the site in which he bids adieu to Sara brings about mixed feelings from the audience.
Nelson's character would have suffered if it had been portrayed by another actor but Reeves makes a thoroughly likable Nelson. However one expects much more from an actor of his caliber.
Theron is entertaining and cute to watch but that is all that she projects in this romantic comedy. Since 'Sweet November' is a remake of Robert Ellis Miller's 1968 film of the same name, Theron is pressurized to get into the shoes projected by Sandy Dennis. This does not give her the freedom which he had gotten in playing opposite Reeves in 'The Devil's Advocate.'