[MOVIE REVIEW]More Like Treacly September

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[MOVIE REVIEW]More Like Treacly September

Charlize Theron is Sara Deever, a free-spirited woman who, after being diagnosed with terminal cancer, decides to take on a different man every month and make him a better person. Why a month? "It's long enough to be meaningful and short enough to stay out of trouble," she says. But "Sweet November," alas, fails on both of those points.

Keanu Reeves is Nelson Moss, an advertising executive who wants everything now. He drives a Mercedes, lives in a hip San Francisco loft and favors dark suits. His best friend is another smarmy exec, Vince (Greg Germann).

Sara dresses in hippie floral dresses and shawls. Her closest friend is the transvestite who lives upstairs from her - this is San Francisco, remember.

One day Sara and Nelson meet while taking the written test at the Department of Motor Vehicles. He cheats off her exam and gets her kicked out. Sara then offers to let her live with him for a month, promising he'll leave a better person. A couple days of rotten luck later, after losing his job and his girlfriend, Nelson accepts her offer.

"Sweet November" may be a remake of the 1968 comedy of the same title, but the premise - an egotistical man finds redemption in a beautiful woman who is dying - has been tried a few times since. Think "Autumn in New York," but with inferior dialogue and Reeves uttering it. Sandy Dennis and Anthony Newley starred in the original screenplay, but as star-crossed lovers in New York.

Of course, Nelson has no idea that Sara's days are numbered. After only one day, he decides to bolt, joking, "My third eye didn't open up." Predictably, he comes back, changes and falls in love. He even eschews a great new job offer and ditches his cell phone to be with her, as per her rules.

Sara's modus operandi is to never fall in love with her monthly charges. Her rules give her the "illusion and dignity of control," she says.

But the couple's Kodak moments - walking dogs, romping on the beach, playing hide-and-go-seek - pile up, and prove too much for Sara.

With such a sappy plot, the movie depends on good acting and strong dialogue to work. Theron succeeds in conveying Sara's winsome outlook, and the drag queen, played by Jason Isaacs, turns in a compelling performance as a warm and caring neighbor. Unfortunately, Reeves's performance is too shallow and the dialogue is enough to make you cringe.

by Joe Yong-hee

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