Who’d have thought that Estonia would unleash one of the most mesmerizingly involving dark fantasies of recent years? Well, they have – via Rainer Sarnet’s November, which has been adapted for the screen from Andrus Kivirahk’s novel Rehepapp.
It is an atmospheric and beautifully realised supernatural vision that would belong as much in the vision of Guillermo Del Toro and Tim Burton as it does here. Osciilloscope, who recently distributed the excellent The Road Movie, have got another worthy winner here, which opened in late February 2018 in the USA.
At the heart of this - amidst all the strange and weird concepts - is a story of love in various incarnations, at odds with a community that is clearly embracing of black magic and the Devil as it is the love in the hearts of the locals.
November focuses on a love triangle between Liina (Rea Lest), Hans (Jordan Liik) and a German baroness (Jette Loona Hermanis). Liina wants to marry best friend Hans, but he is smitten with the Baroness and as a result, devilish deals and a pound of silver appears to be the way forward for Liina and Hans to achieve their love and romantic goals.
The community, who embrace the return of the living dead and some supernatural Burton-esque tree-based life-forms called Kratts (believe me, you will be curious and enchanted in equal measures from the opening with what these things are, rendered with some excellent CGI effects and interaction with the live actors). The Kratts, as such, are curious monstrosities who are keen to work for humanity. Before long, however, many dark figures and ideals are about to bring a hard reality on the individuals, who are as naïve about them as they are with their emotional objectives.
This writer was drawn into the visual enterprise here and found November to be a truly involving and encompassing world – in much the same way that the makers of the recent Stephen King blockbuster version of IT created the most perfect vision of a King world ever.
At times and perhaps understandable given the nature of the film, you might find the plot and relationships secondary to the visuals, which are realised in gorgeous black and white by cinematographer Mart Taniel, a supremely talented DOP who will doubtlessly have an ace of a calling card to Hollywood with his work here. The buzz has already begun for him, given his prize for Best Cinematography at the Tribeca Film Festival 2017
I really do hope he does – as he has got the same kind of visual strength that the likes of Roger Deakins and the late legendary William A. Fraker (Bullitt, Wargames) possess. Taniel certainly has the chance to follow the likes of Janusz Kaminski and Jan De Bont into the Hollywood arena.
November is a multi-faceted genre masterpiece, taking a stylish blend of classic supernatural horror and blending it with a tender tragedy to create a superior work of Eastern European Cinema.
NOVEMBER / CERT: TBC / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: RAINER SARNET / STARRING: REA LEST, JÖRGEN LIIK, ARVO KUKUMÄGI, DIETER LASER / RELEASE DATE: TBC (UK), FEBRUARY 23RD (US)