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Truth Lies Outside the Frame

It's often said that perception is nine-tenths of the law. It's that other one-tenth that is always troublesome. In Greg Harrison's November, we begin with the first nine-tenths and spend the remainder of the film trying to discern the last one-tenth. What emerges is a complex psychological thriller about a grieving woman whose own perception of things seems dicey at best.

Sophie Jacobs (Courteney Cox) is jonesing for a late night snack. Her boyfriend, Hugh (James LeGros) heads into a local convenience store to get Sophie her fix and is brutally shot and killed when a strung out drug addict attempts to hold the place up. Sophie is left alone to grieve and deal with the aftermath.

Accordingly, November is roughly structured according to the various stages of grieving: denial, despair, and acceptance. While we are led to believe that what Sophie experienced in the opening minutes of the film was in fact reality, it becomes apparent in short order that whatever trauma Sophie experienced may be distorting her perception of things.

This is really where November takes off and becomes a truly engaging and thought provoking film. How does trauma affect one's perception? It's a fascinating arena to explore and Harrison smartly chooses to reframe the initial trauma several different ways. What could have been a straightforward film about one woman's attempts to cope with a personal tragedy becomes something much more complex, confusing, and intense.

Fortunately, Courteney Cox (of "Friends" fame) is more than up to the task of playing Sophie Jacobs. Sporting glasses, an often pallid complexion, and the occasional streak of gray, Cox seems far removed from the light hearted Monica she played on the sitcom. Cox ably handles the role of Sophie bringing a pensive and dark tone to her performance.

Greg Harrison's sophomore effort (his first was Groove) is an impressive exploration of the impact of psychological trauma on perception and memory. November is a brisk journey (just under 80 minutes), but has more depth and substance than most films twice the runtime. November is the kind of film that stays with you long after the credits have rolled.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars