Sweet November

1968 US
Dir:Robert Ellis Miller
Sandy Dennis, Anthony Newley, Theodore Bikel, Sandy Baron

Left:Sandy Dennis, Right:Anthony Newley

There is a big difference between this version and the recently remade version of this title. That's, of cource, the presence of Sandy Dennis. As I guess the character of the principal Sarah is more or less tailored for her personality if not intentionally, I feel in such a way as anyone else playing Sarah might ruin the story entirely. In a word, the story is a kind of tragicomedy, which proceeds as follows. One day, a salesman played by Anthony Newley meets a very strange girl Sarah played by Sandy Dennis in a drivers' school. Sarah finds in his behavior some obsessively time-oriented character trait she later diagnoses as "Hurry-Hurry-Ding-Ding" symptom. Then, she invites him to her home, and makes some strange contract; that is, during November only, he can live with Sarah as the Sarah's November. It soon turns out that there were many other men who lived with her before him as, say, the Sarah's October and the Sarah's September, and all those men had some troubles in controlling their mental balance. She seems to have an interest in curing people who have some mental disorder. Staying with her, Newley gradually changes his character, and regain the ability to enjoy his own life. But, finally the time comes when the November is gone, and he must leave her, and, at the same time, he finds out Sarah's secret that she is suffering from incurable disease (not, of course, mental one). Lest it should spoil the fun of those who haven't as yet watched this movie, I don't tell any further than this. Anyway, as you might have noticed, this story has every element of ending up in just another mawkish soap opera, and not only that, this movie also has some comedy element in its proceeding. Keeping tragic aspects and comedy aspects in balance is, I presume, quite a difficult task. But, the presence of Sandy Dennis is keeping this film from actually becoming a cheap soap opera, and is making it a very satisfactory tragicomedy (actually I think one of the best such movies). This in a sense quite unusual actress had a curious natural ability to keep emotionally ambivalent situations in perfect control. Despite the fact that the way of her talking and also her performing was exteremely peculiar even to such an extent that I always feel in such a way as I've never seen so idiosyncratic an actress as she was through the entire movie history, but it seems that her inimitable pecuriarity is effective both to comedic situations and to tragic ones, which can easily be seen in the fact that she was quite adept at both comedy movies and melodramatic ones. I can surely say that "Sweet November" is her best movie in which we can witness her precious ability to show her somehow subdued emotional expressions in such a peculiar manner as coating tragic aspects with rather opposite comical tinge, and vice versa, and in spite of it never losing coherence of emotional balance, and that "Sweet November" is definitely a movie for Sandy Dennis, and not for anyone else. With regard to this point, I must confess that when I watched the remake of this title, I wished I hadn't watched this original version. Because every time Sarah in this new version (played by Charize Theron) did something, I was comparing it with Sandy Dennis' Sarah, and sighed with a thought that she wasn't Sandy Dennis after all. It's of cource quite unfair to watch the remake in such a way, but Sandy Dennis' Sarah was so impressive and memorable that I couldn't keep her image off from the one of Charize Theron's Sarah, and the disparities between them made me a little bit disappointed. Finally, I would like to add that Michel Legrand's music is very very effective, and perfectly matches the ambience of this stunning movie.

All articles are written by Kaminarikozou