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Movie Review

Sweet November

MPAA Rating: PG-13-Rating (MPAA) for sexual content and language

Reviewed by: Kevin Burk

Very Offensive
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Drama and Romance
1 hr. 59 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
February 16, 2001
Relevant Issues
Sweet November
Featuring: Keanu Reeves, Charlize Theron, Greg Germann, Lauren Graham, Jason Isaacs
Director: Pat O'Connor
Producer: Elliott Kastner, Steven Reuther, Deborah Aal Stoff, Erwin Stoff
Distributor: Warner Brothers

“Sweet November” tells the story of an unusual relationship between Nelson (Keanu Reeves), a workaholic advertising executive, and Sarah (Charlize Theron), an attractive, outgoing and quirky woman who takes Nelson in for a month in an attempt to change his life for the better. It uses their situation as a vehicle to offer lessons about life, love and the things we value.

As the film opens, Nelson has burned himself out on his job, gets fired and loses his live-in girlfriend all in one day. He also has to renew his license at the DMV. After trying to cheat off her test paper, he gets Sarah thrown out of the DMV for “cheating.” Sensing an opportunity, Sarah offers to take Nelson on as a lover for one month and enrich his empty, pointless life. After some coaxing Nelson agrees and begins to learn to stop and enjoy the simple, beautiful things in life—the outdoors, helping others and romance. He is forced to take an honest look at himself and comes up wanting. Nelson eventually becomes so entranced by Sarah’s free spirit, he proposes marriage, and learns Sarah’s secret (the reason she takes in men for only a month). So as not to spoil the ending, I’ll tell you only that it’s a tearjerker, though you’ll probably see it coming. I found the ending somewhat unsatisfying, but the film still made its point that Nelson had learned some valuable lessons from Sarah and emerged a better person for having known her.

Overall, this film had a strong moral message, encouraging us to value life, love and people over material things and status. Still, it could have done it without the sexual relationship between the leads, the now stereotypical gay neighbor and some of the foul language. The two performance and chemistry of the leads keep this picture engaging and heartwarming. I would recommend this film, with reservations, and only for adults or older teens who see it with parents as a vehicle for discussion about its issues.

Viewer Comments
Keaunu was a pretty good actor. Cheralize Theron had cool clothes. Those were the only things good about the whole movie! My friends and I were beyond excited to see this movie on opening night… thirteen of us went. Every single one of us left angry and wishing we’d never spent the money and wasted our time. The characters were unrealistic and immoral. I usually do not mind most things people object to, but since when is it okay to sleep with someone you just met and don’t LIKE? Plus, the ending was poorly written and immature. Sarah’s actions were so ridiculous… I assure you NO sane girl would ever do such a thing. I would NEVER recommend this movie to anyone. If you’re looking for a good romantic movie, see “Sense and Sensibilty,” “Bridget Jones’s Diary,” or “Never Been Kissed.” Whatever you do, stay away from “Sweet November.”
My Ratings: [Very Offensive / 1½]
Liz, age 18
The best thing about this movie was the cinema poster. Other than that, I found the characters living a meaningless life. She sleeps with a different guy each month. he’s chasing madly after money. Both rely on their own will to make decisions—and we know from the bible that that inexorably “leads to death.” Overall, this movie ain’t so sweet. Go watch something else.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive / 4]
Justin Lim, age 30
It had a great story line and at the end it really tugged at my heart but it was extremely wrong, morally. The fact that this lady takes one man a month and makes him her “project,” commiting adultery numerous times, leading each man on, and trying to solve other peoples problems when she cannot even help herself or allow others to help her, it just made me really uncomfortable. Even though there is no skin nudity… this film leaves a lot of things up to the imagination. I would probably not go see this movies again. It did have a sweet ending and Keanu Reeves makes his turnaround a believeable one… but still… what we let into our minds is what we have a good chance of becoming.
My Ratings: [Average / 3]
David, age 18
As a Christian, and a Father, I did not like the 6+ sex scenes of the 2 unwed individuals. The few scenes that I did find disturbing had to with the homosexuality and transvestites. I think her mission to “help” those “no-life” men was a great one, but again, leave out the bed scenes and [homosexual plug] and it would have been a great flick!
My Ratings: [Very Offensive / 3½]
Erik, age 27
Movie Critics
…sexual encounters are partially seen and heard…
There were quite a few scenes where sex was implied. It deserved its PG-13 rating and definitely is for older teens-adults. It did have some good lessons though. Sarah (Charlize Theron) wanted to take a workaholic and show him some of the good things in life he was missing out on because he was working so much. Its an overall pretty good movie.
My Ratings: [Average / 3½]
Amanda, age 16
Although the plotline was somewhat of a refreshing change from that of the typical love story, this movie centered around one theme: sex. A man (Keanu Reeves) is lured in from his work-centered lifestyle to live with a woman he’d met only 48 hours prior. Her goal? To break him of his workaholic lifestyle, thereby allowing him to live life to its fullest. An interesting scenario; however, the uniqueness of the situation is tainted by the fact that the two have sex almost immediately after he moves in. Overall, her therapy consists mainly of games with heavy sexual overtones, and changing the way he goes about making love. In short, there is no moral sense of right and wrong in this movie as far as sexuality is concerned: there is very much a “do what feels right” sort of attitude. In addition, throughout the movie there are multiple scenes with partial nudity. Although an emotional plot twist at the end almost makes sitting through the rest of the movie worthwhile, the creative plotline still falls short of redeeming the movie from its immoral themes. In short, I wouldn’t waste my money going to see it—it is only pollution for the Christian mind.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive / 4]
Catherine, age 18
Premarital sex is a huge part of this movie. So are live in relationships. There is cussing and a gay character in this movie as well. This movie wasn’t sweet at all!!!
My Ratings: [Very Offensive / 1½]
K.E, age 13
I just made 2 mistakes 1-Not checking out the reviews on this site as I usually do before seeing Sweet November. 2-Seeing Sweet November. The proper title should be November Trash. The only positive point from this movie is enjoying life instead of being obsessed with work. However, sex outside of marriage is not the way God intended for us to enjoy his creation. don’t waste your money on this movie.
My Ratings: [Extremely Offensive / 3]
Chris Yates, age 40