"November" is a mystery/suspense in which the structure of the film, itself, provides the mystery behind the traumatic memories of Los Angeles photographer Sophie Jacobs (Courteney Cox). Sophie's live-in boyfriend Hugh (James LeGros) was shot to death in a convenience store robbery. Now Sophie is having debilitating headaches and seeing a psychiatrist (Nora Dunn), who believes her symptoms may be the result of guilt. But Sophie seems to be doing things she doesn't remember, seeing things that don't make sense, and when a photo taken of the convenience store the night of the robbery turns up, Sophie's confusion deepens and the line between imagination and reality is blurred.
"November" moves slowly and is sporadically non-narrative. It's a circular, inscrutable account of the tricks that memory play on Sophie in the aftermath of some trauma....or perhaps no trauma. The film's strength is that it draws the audience into the mystery of Sophie's memory with flashbacks of the shooting throughout, giving the impression that there is something more to know which may be revealed if we follow the film's disjointed progression. "November" has 2 big strikes against it, though. One is that it is like a jigsaw puzzle with too many pieces. It doesn't add up. Director Greg Harrison has erroneously called this "ambiguity". That would imply that "November" can be interpreted more than one way. I challenge anyone to interpret it at all. Harrison does not have a clear idea of what he wants to say, so, ultimately, it doesn't come across.
The second strike against "November" is the way it looks. This film was shot in 15 days on Mini DV, and it looks even worse than that implies. It doesn't help that most of the film was shot in low light. It's very grainy. The lighting is multicolored, but primarily deathly tungsten blue or sickly fluorescent green. That's intentional. Add to this cheap, jarring visual effects, and "November" is practically unwatchable. I've been hearing for years how DV would revolutionize independent film by making it affordable for anyone to be a filmmaker. Well, I've seen a handful low-budget DV films in the past year, and I don't think I can take many more films that look this bad. I'm sure some of these filmmakers see themselves as innovative or avant-garde, but there is nothing in the world more conventional or commonplace than ugliness.
The DVD (Sony Pictures 2005): There is an "Alternate Opening Sequence" (3 min), with commentary, that is not as good as the credit sequence that made the final cut. In "A Conversation with Lew Baldwin, composer/visual effects" (9 min), director Greg Harrison and Baldwin talk about creating the first sequence in the convenience store. "Photo Galleries" includes slide shows of 3 galleries: New York photographer Michele Asselin provides the photos that make up Sophie (3 min) and Jesse's (1 min) portfolios, which we see hanging on the walls in the movie. There are also behind-the-scenes photos (1 min). There are 2 audio commentary tracks: The first is by director Greg Harrison and screenwriter Benjamin Brand. They discuss the narrative structure of the film and compare the film to the script. The second commentary is by director Greg Harrison and cinematographer Nancy Schreiber. They talk about the film's colors, in-camera effects, lighting set-ups, and a lot about filming. Subtitles for the film are available in French.