NOVEMBER (2017) Reviews and overview

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November is a 2017 Estonian-Dutch-Polish fantasy film written and directed by Rainer Sarnet, based on the novel Rehepapp by Andrus Kivirähk. The movie stars Rea Lest, Jörgen Liik, Arvo Kukumägi and Katariina Unt.

A pagan Estonian village is beset by werewolves, the plague, and evil spirits. But the villagers’ main problem is how to survive the cold, dark winter. And, to that aim, nothing is taboo. People steal from each other, from their German manor lords, and from spirits, the Devil, and Christ.

To guard their souls, they’ll give them away to thieving creatures made of wood and metal called Kratts. They steal even if their barns are already overflowing. Stealing is an obsession that makes the villagers more and more like the soulless creatures they command, the Kratts…

“Certainly Sarnet doesn’t lack imagination and the unsettling mood that pervades the action is maintained throughout […] This is an ambitious but flawed work best enjoyed for its haunting moments or sudden outbursts of pitch-black humour than its overall narrative.” Eye for Film

“The plot doesn’t exactly take centre stage here but the imagery is so glorious it doesn’t really matter. As you may have gathered from the above the movie has a Terry Gilliam by way of Carl Dreyer feel – a bizarre and off-kilter mix of scatological gags and dreamlike shots that make you want to freeze-frame.” House of Mortal Cinema

” …a bizarre Estonian love story — a mishmash of folklore, farm animals and scabrous fun — in which beauty and ugliness fight to the death. The beauty lies in Mart Taniel’s surreal black-and-white cinematography, which turns a freezing lake into liquid mercury and a snow-dusted forest into Christmas-cookie perfection.” The New York Times

“The narrative never really builds a good head of steam. That could just be because as a Westerner with extremely limited knowledge of Estonian culture and mythology, the barrage of tropes from there is relatively overwhelming for me. Even so, November never stops being a visual trip. And that may well be enough.”

“It’s both gravely serious and a demonically funny, a blend meant to catch audiences off balance. Mission accomplished. […] November is complex, confounding, surreal and all-out sensational. It’ll put a spell on you.” Rolling Stone

“Its impenetrable storylines take shape like most of its dialogue, bearing the enigmatic sparseness of poetic stanzas or ancient spells. There’s more to be enjoyed if one gets lost in the bewildering rhythm between eerie sounds and the black-and-white imagery, instead of trying to detangle the various strands of the surreal narrative.” Slant magazine

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