Sweet November [2001]

Director: Pat O'Connor
Stars: Keanu Reeves, Charlize Theron, Jason Isaacs, Greg Germann, Liam Aiken
Genre: Drama, Romance
Rating: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Runtime: 119 minutes

The 1968 version of Sweet November was a frothy fable that worked, for the most part, due to the charmingly offbeat chemistry of costars Sandy Dennis and Anthony Newley. For this turn-of-the-millennium remake, Keanu Reeves and Charlize Theron do their best to ground the fable in a more sophisticated reality, but that's just what this movie doesn't need. The premise is preposterous to begin with, so we need credible fantasy to leap over chasms of logic and ease into what should be a tear-jerking variation of Love Story. It's certainly possible to get suckered into the movie's sticky-sweet romance, but you'll need extra effort to suspend your disbelief. Theron is Sara, who pathologically lures men into romance for one month at a time, "helping" them before moving onto the next month's catch. She's avoiding long-term commitments because she's deathly ill--a fact revealed by hundreds of prescription bottles hidden in her medicine cabinet. Reeves is Nelson, the fast-lane advertising executive who reluctantly becomes Sara's Mr. November. He's insulting and callous until he learns the truth, at which point director Pat O'Connor makes a 180-degree tone shift that cannot possibly succeed. Theron makes the most of her movie-sickness routine, but Reeves is out of his depth, and not one but two romantic montages (set to the music of Enya, no less) only emphasize the movie's abundant clich├ęs (the most obvious being The Patriot's Jason Isaacs as Theron's supportive gay neighbor). Cry if you must, but don't let anyone catch you. --Jeff Shannon

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