‘Memento’-style cheapie doesn’t work

  • By Robert Horton / Herald Movie Ctitic
  • Thursday, July 28, 2005 9:00pm
  • LifeGo-See-Do

A tricky approach to storytelling and an arty style are the whole show in “November,” yet another fling at a “Memento”-inspired mystery film. Commendably assembled on a tiny budget, this indie isn’t as smart as it thinks it is.

Wearing: A one-trick idea from the “Memento” school, about the shifting realities for a woman (Courteney Cox) whose boyfriend is shot in a convenience store hold-up. Even at 73 minutes this one wears out its welcome. Rated: R rating is for violence, language.

Now showing: Metro.

The movie circles obsessively around an event on a November evening. A couple, Sophie (Courteney Cox) and Hugh (James Le Gros), stop off at a convenience store on the way home. As Sophie sits in the car outside, Hugh is shot dead in a hold-up.

Sophie’s grief is interrupted by the arrival of an inexplicable photograph. A teacher of photography, she knows all the theories about the art of photographs, but she can’t understand how a shot of her sitting in the car outside the store came into existence.

Screenwriter Benjamin Brand then jerks us into another version of the same story – with a few differences. Same convenience store, another photograph, but everything’s slightly off.

This is the film’s agenda, as we shuffle through different realities. Since the different versions of the story are headlined with words associated with “On Death and Dying” author Elisabeth Kubler-Ross (“Denial,” “Acceptance”), we might guess this film is death-stricken from the start.

But most savvy moviegoers will figure out what’s going on well before “November” reaches the end of its amazingly brief 73 minutes, at which point the idea clunks along to its conclusion.

Director Greg Harrison varies his photographic look in the different segments, a literal effect that doesn’t disguise the trick. He’s better at getting the weird unease that Roman Polanski created in his early films – unexplained noises and disturbing phone calls in the night.

Trying to shed her “Friends” skin, Courteney Cox suffers mightily for the cause, but not very convincingly. She still comes across as the girl from “Friends,” but with eyeglasses and a less professional hairdo. And she shouldn’t get extra points for taking a risk on iffy material. We’re told that a high-priced TV performer is to be applauded for getting down and dirty in a cheap indie (shot in 15 days), but isn’t this what actors are supposed to do?

Talk to us

More in Life

Kotor's zigzagging town wall rewards climbers with a spectacular view. (Cameron Hewitt / Rick Steves' Europe)
Rick Steves: Just south of Dubrovnik lies unpolished Montenegro

One of Europe’s youngest nations offers dramatic scenery, locals eager to show off their unique land, and a refreshing rough-around-the-edges appeal.

Dark gray wheels and black exterior accents provide extra visual appeal for the 2024 Subaru Impreza’s RS trim. (Subaru)
2024 Subaru Impreza loses a little, gains a lot

The brand’s compact car is fully redesigned. A couple of things are gone, but many more have arrived.

TSR image for calendar
Music, theater and more: What’s happening in Snohomish County

This weekend in Snohomish: The Snohomish Blues Invasion and the Snohomish Studio Tour 2023.

Made by Bruce Hutchison, the poster for “A Momentary Diversion on the Road to the Grave” is an homage to 1985 classic “The Goonies.” (Photo provided)
Indie film premiering on Whidbey Island

Filmed almost entirely on Whidbey Island, “A Momentary Diversion on the Road to the Grave” is set to premiere in Langley.

TSR image only
Does your elementary school child have ADHD?

It’s important to identify children with this condition so we can help them succeed in school.

This photo provided by OceanGate Expeditions shows a submersible vessel named Titan used to visit the wreckage site of the Titanic. In a race against the clock on the high seas, an expanding international armada of ships and airplanes searched Tuesday, June 20, 2023, for the submersible that vanished in the North Atlantic while taking five people down to the wreck of the Titanic. (OceanGate Expeditions via AP)
A new movie based on OceanGate’s Titan submersible tragedy is in the works: ‘Salvaged’

MindRiot announced the film, a fictional project titled “Salvaged,” on Friday.

A clump of flowering ornamental grass or pennisetum alopecuroides in an autumn garden.
My garden runneth over with fountain grasses, and for good reason

These late-blooming perennials come in many varieties. They work well as accents, groundcovers, edgings or in containers.

This Vacasa rental is disgusting. Can I get my money back?

The vacation rental Carol Wilson books for her group through Vacasa is infested with rats and insects. Vacasa offers to refund one night, but can they get all of their money back?

A woman diverts from her walk on Colby Avenue to take a closer look at a pickup truck that was partly crushed by a fallen tree during an overnight wind storm Saturday, Nov. 5, 2022, in north Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / Herald file)
Storm season is coming. Here’s how to prepare for power outages.

The most important action you can take is to make an emergency preparedness kit.

Most Read