November (2017)

November (2017) MOVIE DETAILS
Name: November
Year: 2017
Country: Estonia, Netherlands, Poland
Director: Rainer Sarnet
Main cast: Rea Lest, Jörgen Liik, Arvo Kukumägi
Runtime: 115 minutes
Production company: Homeless Bob Production, Opus Film, PRPL


I was immediately attracted when reading the synopsis of this film, at the Sitges Film Festival. First, because it offered a very bizarre mixture of fantasy creatures in what seemed to be a dark fairy tale with touches of surrealistic black comedy and magic realism. Second, for the intrigue of watching an Estonian film (actually, how many films from Estonia do you know? How many have reached your screens? See, that’s what I mean).

The story is set in an Estonian village among the woods, with very poor inhabitants that try to survive the cold winter. By means of magic and robbery, they interact with each other, with love, hate, indifference, with objects that have a soul and humans that have lost it, with fear or lust, with a purpose or as an act out of tedium. Everything is possible in this sequence of events tainted by myths and legends, with a blurred goal but no hurry to reach it, trying to offer us enough occurrences to entertain us along the two hours of film. Peculiar characters (sometimes played by non-professional actors, to add a kind of innocent realism), good locations (the beautiful woods and wooden cabins, it all goes perfectly as a background for magical events) and a superb black and white cinematography (that adds time and nostalgia, and contributes positively to the whole well created atmosphere for a fairy tale). It seems to have enough elements for a successful cinematographic achievement. But I must say, although it reaches moments of real beauty, the whole story looks too ambitious to me: too many elements, it becomes too long, and finishes being boring – and it’s a pity, that something promising enough leaves you with the terrible feeling of “I just want it all to end”-.

This is a too common problem when trying to adapt to the screen a story that was completed in a different form. November’s script is based on the novel “Rehepapp“, by Andrus Kivirähk, an Estonian classic bestseller. I haven’t had the chance to read the book, but just by watching the film, I can tell the novel is much more precise and complex, and as it usually happens in those cases, the need to condense the plot in a feature film length led to a big loss on the story achievement. When watching the film, it feels like we’re missing parts, correlations, and in short, time to properly develop all the complexity of the world created by the author Kivirähk.

November could be a good adaptation, while, as said, has many elements to charm the spectator. Nevertheless, it didn’t convince me, because I think a movie must be consistent and complete on itself, and to me, this one opens too many different threads and leaves you in the middle of the rampage, a beautiful one but also quite incomprehensible. I stay with the experimental and inspirational part of it all, and recommend, for those who want to venture into it, to have some patience and maybe read the book before.

RATE: 4 /10


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