Tribute (Ca), February 2001
Keanu Reeves and Charlize Theron team up in uncoventional love story
by Gerry Young
Nelson Moss (Keanu Reeves) is on the verge of becoming emotionally extinct. He is in the advanced stages of workaholism, devoid of any noticeable intimacy skills. Then one November day he meets Sara Deever (Charlize Theron), a free spirit with a special gift for healing emotionally scarred men.
Sara offers a unique "cure" for what ails Nelson. Reluctantly, Nelson is persuaded to play along, but what neither counts on is falling in love. By November's end, they each make a courageous sacrifice for their new love.
Producer Deborah Aal Stoff (also Reeves' manager) first saw the original Sweet November in 1969, and was so deeply affected by its emotional impact that the story stayed with her for over 30 years. Stoff and her husband, producer Erwin Stoff, began developing the romantic drama about two years ago.
"What appealed to Keanu," she says, "was the idea of doing a movie that had absolutely not one blue screen, not one carchase, not one fight sequence; it was just about relating to another character."
She adds "one of his greatest qualities is that he is both enigmatic and incredibly vulnerable. He also makes a great jerk. I think that combination of qualities is exactly what the character needed. The role also gives Keanu an opportunity to show a different side of himself which a lot of people, particularly women, are anxious to see."
For his part, Reeves liked the script and the changes that happen to Nelson Moss in the story. "I like what happens to Sara and Nelson in the piece and the nature of choice it presents," says Reeves.
"The love that grows between them opens up a whole new world for him. He can smell the flowers. With love and appreciation of this other person, he gets to become more of a human. It's a great part in a good piece, and I was glad to be there."
When the script was completed, the first choice for Sara Deever was Charlize Theron. Reeves and Theron had previously starred together in The Devil's Advocate and had remained friends. When Theron read the script she immediately related to the material and wanted to be involved.
The essence of Sweet November's unconventional and fresh love story appealed to Theron. "To me it was original and not something that's been seen a lot," she said.
"There is always something nice about going to a film that can entertain you and move you the way this love story does, but at the same time I think this film will really make you think about what life is really all about."
After Reeves and Theron were cast, the next crucial element was finding a director who would shape Sweet November as the Stoffs envisioned it. The producers felt that the movie would need a European sensibility to capture the intimacy and the edge of the mundane that real life is about.
"I had seen Circle of Friends and Inventing the Abbotts and was very interested in Irish director Pat O'Connor," says Stoff. "His movies are all about relationships, and the silences in his movies speak volumes. He understands sentiment and feeling as opposed to sentimentality. He finds the beauty in truth."