‘November’ Review: Gothic Love Triangle In Estonia Is “Stunningly Beautiful”

Bruce Purkey reviews "November," a visually mesmeric black and white feature that is streaming on Shudder, Kanopy and available on Vudu.


November (2017 — streaming on Shudder, Vudu, Kanopy), directed by Rainer Sarnet, is a stunningly beautiful, maddeningly obtuse, sometimes funny, dark Estonian folk tale. The story revolves around Lina (Rea Lest) and Hans (Jorgen Liik), two peasants trying to survive a harsh winter and threatening plague by any means necessary. Lina has eyes for Hans, but Hans’ gaze has been captured by Baroness (Jette Loona Hermanis). All of this may sound like a classic, gothic love triangle, but the presentation is anything but traditional.

November isn’t really a straight-forward narrative as it is a series of vignettes, surrealistic visions, threaded together by the overall trajectory of Lina’s love. This is a world where gardening tools and sticks can form an animated servant called a “kratt.” This is a world where the ghosts of ancestors walk out of the forest and come to dinner in your house. This is a world where you literally go to the crossroads to make a deal with the devil. 

If the “story” of November sounds interesting enough to entice you, the absolutely gorgeous black and white cinematography should keep you around until the end. To understand  if this is your type of movie, think David Lynch meets Hagazussa, with just a touch of Jan Svankmajer. If that sounds terrible or absolutely confusing, this is not the movie for you. If that makes you sit up and your brain spark with curiosity, then, give it a chance.

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