Sweet November (2001)

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Released 1-Nov-2001

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Romantic Comedy Main Menu Audio
Featurette-Studio Extras
Listing-Cast & Crew
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2001
Running Time 115:18
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (45:26) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Pat O'Connor
Studio
Distributor

Warner Home Video
Starring Keanu Reeves
Charlize Theron
John Isaacs
Greg Germann
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $34.95 Music Christopher Young


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
Spanish
Italian
Dutch
Swedish
Norwegian
Danish
Finnish
Portuguese
Hebrew
Polish
Greek
Turkish
Hungarian
Icelandic
Croatian
Italian for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement Yes
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    The Sweet November that I am reviewing here is a 2001 remake of the 1968 film of the same name, and I haven't seen the original version, so you will have to look elsewhere for comparisons between the two. This 2001 remake starts out well, with a strong performance by Charlize Theron balancing out Keanu Reeves' performance, but it is hampered towards the end by excessive sappiness. This was disappointing for me, because the build-up in the first eighty minutes really worked well, and this is coming from a major fan of ultra-violent science fiction films like RoboCop and Total Recall. Still, if you don't mind a good film with a really sappy ending, then Sweet November is worth checking out.

    Nelson Moss (Keanu Reeves) is a coffee table impersonator powerful advertising executive who loves his job to the literal exclusion of all else, including his girlfriend, Angelica (Lauren Graham). One fine day at work, Nelson is reminded that he has to go to the Department of Motor Vehicles and renew his license, lest he risk being thrown in jail for driving without one. So he takes the trip to the DMV and sits the test, whereupon he meets Sara Deever (Charlize Theron), whom he asks for help with one of the questions. Unfortunately, the DMV Proctor (L. Peter Callender) takes a dim view of this, and Sara is disqualified from taking the test for thirty days, which results in Nelson finding her sitting on his car when he exits the building.

    Later, after bearing witness to a few stunts from Sara, Nelson comes home to find that Angelica has left him, then he proceeds to get himself fired from his cushy advertising job. Sara turns up in his life again and proposes that he live with her for thirty days, after which she claims he will leave a better and hopefully changed man. Nelson eventually agrees to this proposal, but at the same time he attempts to resurrect his career with the help of his friend Vince (Greg Germann), which results in a rather interesting conflict of choices. Does he go back to his old lifestyle, or will he allow Sara to continue showing him that there is a whole wide world out there? Naturally, with some assistance from Sara's neighbour, Chaz (Jason Isaacs), there are some amusing twists to keep the viewer on the edge of their seat, but unfortunately the last third of the film becomes somewhat cornball in its delivery.

    Overall, I would recommend Sweet November to those who enjoy a romantic film but find that Pretty Woman or its ilk tend to depart too far from reality. Charlize Theron delivers a spellbinding performance, Jason Isaacs steals the show, while Greg Germann (of Ned And Stacey fame) and Keanu Reeves basically prove once more that they can't act for peanuts. Otherwise, viewers who are utterly sick to death of sappiness might be advised to watch the first eighty minutes of the film, which are really entertaining, and make up their own version of what happens in the final forty.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Sweet November is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, and it is 16x9 Enhanced. Unlike other recent transfers from the Warner Home Video stable, this is a PAL disc, so there is no need to worry about whether your display can handle it.

    This transfer is very sharp, with eye-pleasing levels of detail to be seen at all times. The film was shot with matting, so it has an excellent depth of field, and the scene compositions are well preserved by the 1.78:1 transfer. The shadow detail is excellent, although there are very few real night-time sequences, with most of the action taking place in daytime or well-lit locations. There was no low-level noise to be found in this transfer.

    The colours in this transfer are superbly rendered, with a lot of interesting contrasts on display for those who love to see every one of the millions of shades that the human eye can distinguish between in their transfers. The warm, bright colours in Chapter 29 contrast well with the white, almost monochromatic scheme at the end of Chapter 31. This transfer captures a lavish colour palette without any smearing or composite artefacts.

    MPEG artefacts were not apparent in this transfer, with the space of this disc utilised to (almost) full effect. Film-to-video artefacts consisted of some aliasing that was moderate in frequency and mild in severity, at least most of the time. The most objectionable instance I found was a combined aliasing and moiré effect on some wall lights at 25:21, but this was the exception rather than the norm. Film artefacts were close enough to non-existent that I can't think of any single instance when I actually noticed them.

    There are no English for the Hearing Impaired subtitles on this disc (there are Italian subtitles of that variety, however). The ordinary English subtitles on this disc are about ninety-nine percent accurate to the spoken dialogue, but they do not feature any sound captions, so Hearing Impaired viewers who do not speak Italian are at some disadvantage.

    This disc is RSDL formatted, with the layer change occurring between Chapters 14 and 15, at 45:26. This is a good place to put the layer change, as it is right between scenes, just after Charlize Theron says "yeah, of course", although the pause is noticeable on a stand-alone player.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    This particular DVD boasts three soundtracks, all of which are encoded in Dolby Digital 5.1 with a bitrate of 384 kilobits per second. The first, and default, soundtrack is the original English dialogue, with dubs in Spanish and Italian for good measure. Although I was curious to try out the other languages, I stuck with the English soundtrack.

    The dialogue is clear and easy to understand at all times, even from Keanu Reeves, whose sole talent really seems to be making all of his speech seem like mumbling. I did not detect any discernable problems with audio sync.

    The music in this film is divided into a score by Christopher Young, and a song called Only Time by Enya. The score music does a good, but not great, job of supporting the action.

    The surround channels are frequently used to support thunder, ambient sounds on the street, and a public address system. The best examples were at 31:28 and 47:05, when the light booming of thunder is spread throughout the soundstage and envelops the viewer. While there are no aggressive effects, or particularly creative ones, this soundtrack demonstrates that action films don't have a monopoly on creative usage of sound.

    The subwoofer was not overly worked by this soundtrack, only really coming to life in order to support the music, which it did without being conspicuous.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menu

    The menu is static, accompanied by Dolby Digital 2.0 audio, and 16x9 Enhanced.

Featurette - Studio Extras

    This nine minute and forty-three second featurette is presented in the aspect ratios of 1.33:1 and approximately 1.78:1 with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound, and it is not 16x9 Enhanced.

Theatrical Trailer

    This two minute and twelve second trailer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, 16x9 Enhanced, with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound.

Cast Listing

    A singular page listing some of the people who worked on this film.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 4 and Region 1 versions of this disc are pretty much identical, except that Widescreen Review describe the Region 1 version as suffering from smearing and off-colour flesh tones. Aside from that, the only difference is a different mix of languages, with the Region 1 version having a French dub instead of Italian and Spanish. Region 4 is the winner by a nose.

Summary

    Sweet November is a good film that, while not able to really turn heads, has more to recommend it than a lot of films that have received a great deal more publicity. I would recommend it for dates or evenings at home with the missus, but maybe the ending does try just a little too hard. Still, it is not often that I can say I honestly enjoyed a film with Keanu Reeves in it.

    The video transfer is very good.

    The audio transfer is excellent.

    The extras are minimal.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Dean McIntosh (Don't talk about my bio. We don't wanna know.)
Thursday, February 14, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba 2109, using S-Video output
DisplaySamsung CS-823AMF (80cm). Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL).
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationSony STR DE-835
SpeakersYamaha NS-45 Front Speakers, Yamaha NS-90 Rear Speakers, Yamaha NSC-120 Centre Speaker, JBL Digital 10 Active Subwoofer

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