November Greg Harrison

November Greg Harrison
November is so beautifully shot and so expertly edited that you wish it were something other than pitifully shallow and pretentious. Things begin innocently when photography teacher Courtney Cox watches boyfriend James LeGros get shot by a convenience store robber, but then the chronology starts fracturing and philosophical musings that wouldn't be out of place on the back of a matchbook begin.

She begins in denial, of course, and inter-titles flash various other Elisabeth Kubler-Ross headings as Cox starts seeing the scene of the crime in her students' work, and of course there are scenes with our heroine's psychiatrist (Nora Dunn) and mother (Anne Archer) that have nothing to do with the action.

Long story short, the film keeps setting you up for meaning that never arrives. It invokes the temporal and identity-splitting actions of Last Year at Marienbad and Persona without either's thematic complexity, and despite its formalist shenanigans it can't mask the fact that its drama is a soap opera masquerading as a term paper. Everything is too perfect in that indie-domestic kind of way, and there's even a subplot about Cox and LeGros's strained conjugal relations that suggests Woody Allen rather than any high-modernist source.

Harrison is so talented as an editor and so adept with his cinematographer that you wish he were more sensible, as his film is as much a music video as a Michael Bay movie, though for a band far more obscure (and far more pretentious). Cox's performance can't save it from its essential banality, but really, what could? (Mongrel Media)