Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Film Review: Cold November (2017)


Growing up is never easy and sometimes, it can take us on unique journeys, both outside and inside. Cold November is a movie that explores this notion and does it remarkably well through a seemingly simple setup. The film follows Florence, a 12-year-old living and growing up in a rural part of the US. Interestingly, her family has followed a tradition of the women going to a deer hunt as a sort of rite of passage for entering into adulthood.

Florence is near that point, so she and her mother, grandmother and cousins decide to follow the same tradition. Yet, this process will not come easy for Florence or her loved ones in a tale of nostalgia, change and our ever-inadequate abilities to deal with it, no matter if we are kids, adults or something in-between.

Cold November is directed by Karl Jacob in a unique manner. With the use of plenty of eerie and atmospheric music, he uses gentle shots and naturalistic cinematography to create a movie where landscapes, plants, animals, humans and even houses and guns sort of blend together. In many ways, the movie is like a coloring book coming to life, but one which deals with serious issues like mourning and crucial life changes.

Through the hunting topic, the film explores the notion of life and death, but does it in a roundabout manner: it allows and provides no easy answers. For example, at one point, the grandma character recounts how her family resolved to hunting when she was a child and the region was in a middle of a harsh economic crisis. Her tale is both nostalgic and cautionary, but more than everything else, it is a tale, where the audience listens to it very much like Florence does. Like this tale, the movie aims to provide experiences and an emotional journey instead of a purely cognitive one.


Yet, what impressed me the most is the way the Cold November deals with its characters. There is a family drama being played out inside of it, but it is always on the sidelines, just out of the view of the audience. At the same time, all of this is followed by a sense of tension and a feel that many things are not being said in the dialogues, only hinted by the family members.

Bijou Abas, who plays the main character, does a really impressive job, similar to the rest of the crew, allowing for that family immersion to take place. Thanks to this and all that it has going for it, Cold November provides an intimate experience where it is easy to empathize with Florence and her ongoing change, as well as embrace it in this great indie drama film.



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