Tribeca 2017: November
November is part horror, part fairy tale, part romance, and part black comedy. Set in an Estonian village during the harsh month of November, the film is based on the best selling novel Rehepapp by Andrus Kivirahk. Written and directed by Rainer Sarnet, the period piece is remarkable and original, and both exacting and compelling. It’s an astonishing film, one that reveals deeper symbolism and mysteries upon reflection. The dialogue is engaging and cryptic, the actors give authentic performances, the music is haunting. November is a curious film, and would probably benefit from multiple viewings.
To give a general plot summary would really be a disservice to the film. In my opinion, it’s the kind of film that benefits from a blind viewing. That way the mystical and spiritual elements can truly take a hold of you. November is a supernatural art film, that tackles themes of greed, humanity, longing, and survival. The film reminded me of Ingmar Bergman. I was reminded of his use of religious and pagan imagery to convey existential themes. One of my favorite moments in November is a communion scene where the villagers spit out the wafer. The opening sequence of the film is expertly staged and hooks in the viewer immediately. Sarnet stages his sequences with delicacy and precision, showing a command over his production.
Visually, November has a lot to offer. The cinematography by Mart Taniel is stark and bleak, with the black and white imagery offering an otherworldly quality to the film. What I find interesting is how plain and dirty the sets are. Taniel captures the mise en scen so directly, and the lack of frills actually adds to the magical element. The camerawork is really arresting, and complements the surreal qualities of the film. November is a beautiful, frightening, and captivating movie that explores a strange group of people all looking for more.