Title: November (Fantasia 2017 review)

Also known as:

Year: 2017

Genre: Arthouse / Fantasy / Drama / Romance

Language: Estonian / German

Runtime: 115 min

Director: Rainer Sarnet

Writer: Rainer Sarnet (screenplay), Andrus Kivirähk (novel)

IMDb: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt6164502/

In a pagan village in Estonia, nothing is too weird. It's a world of ghosts, weird metal creatures, werewolves and plagues, but none of these things are as big of a problem as the coldness of the winter and the fellow humans. In the midst of all the stealing and darkness, a love drama unfolds.

Our thoughts:
Where the hell do I begin to talk about "November"? I guess the best place to start is to say that it's based on a successful Estonian novel called "Rehepapp", written by Andrus Kivirähk. Perhaps if I had read the book I would not have been so surprised when this black and white, calm and naturalistic opening developed into a living metal wheel with an animal skull as a head attacking a lonely cow. "November" is filled with these moments. Despite being prepared for the most odd of things halfway through, it finds ways of catching you off guard. However, don't assume that "November" is just weird, as there is a deep mythology being explored here.

Welcome to a world of ghosts, curses, plagues, werewolves, slave metal creatures known as "kratt", stealing, devils, and the very, very cold winter. Yes, this is a mysterious world, and yes it is completely insane. Stealing is a big part of this world, as everyone steals from everyone. It doesn't matter if you're a farmer or a lord, your soul will never be safe. The main plot that we get invested in is a triangle of miserable, unrequited love. At the bottom of the love chain we see Liina, a farm girl who has fallen in love with the local boy Hans. Because of her strong love for him, a werewolf curse has been bestowed upon her. Meanwhile, Hans' attention is focused on someone else that is unattainable to him - the Baroness. These problems might seem minor in this pagan Estonian village, where the most bizarre things happen on a regular basis, but the core of "November" is soul, and what cuts deeper into the soul than love? Everything begins to crumble Wwhen the entire village begin to question their souls.

There is beauty in the world that Andrus Kivirähk has built up in his novel "Rehepapp", but the talent of director Rainer Sarnet and his team shows here is undeniable. When putting this mythological tragedy on the screen they've also created one of the most creative movies of the year. It feels like watching a Švankmajer movie done by the way of Bergman. You can imagine the devastating, yet somehow darkly funny, and bizarre experience that would translate to, and "November" would not disappoint.

Similar to how "Hard To Be a God" of last year drew inspiration from history, mixing it with sci-fi, the human condition and filthy chaos, "November" does a similar thing with pagan Estonian and European Christian mythologies. Because the movie is essentially about "soul" in every kind of way, the actual plot could have worked in pretty much any environment, but when it's seen through this filthy, dark, weird world, we get an even stronger connection to it. It all works so well because at no time does the movie actually take itself so seriously that is makes us choke of the misery. It doesn't laugh, but it most definitely smirks. Thanks to this, weird ideas like kratt, the living metal creatures, dying when they're given impossible tasks (such as making a ladder out of bread) works so well.

As you know, I have a soft spot for black and white photography overall. There are plenty of things in here that I would classify as surreal, but the photography does a fantastic job at bringing out the beauties of nature in a way that only black and white movies can. In the opening seconds (before the movie shows its bizarre face), we see a wolf drinking water from a pond, and the way it was captures was all I needed to see before I knew that I would appreciate this on a aesthetical level if nothing else. Of course, then it gets weird as fuck and I couldn't have been happier!

It is currently at Fantasia International Film Festival and I couldn't think of a better place to watch it. If you don't have a chance to go there, Oscilloscope will be releasing this in theaters this fall. Perhaps you have read the book, or perhaps you are curious about my comparison of Švankmajer and Bergman. Whatever reason that makes you interested in this movie, make sure you check it out when you get a chance. Everyone involved with this movie deserves to get their work seen, as creating something like this must have been extremely hard. Luckily, the hard work has paid off! There is far too much in here that requires multiple viewings, so take my dissection of "November" with a grain of salt. In the future when the movie has settled in my mind, I hope to be able to revisit it.

Positive things:
- Creative and bizarre.
- Stunning black and white photography.
- A mix of everything from mythologies to metal beasts and slapstick humor!
Negative things:
- Unfortunately I haven't read Andrus Kivirähk's novel "Rehepapp". I imagine it would give a deeper understanding of this world.
- I have only seen it once.

Gore: 1/5
Nudity: 1/5
Story: 3/5
Effects: 4/5
Comedy: 3/5

We watched this movie thanks to:
Fantasia International Film Festival 2017

Reviewed by:


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