Recorded in Providence, although the plot is actually set in Washington DC, “November Criminals” is a mix of mystery and teenage romance, directed by Sacha Gervasi, who made some changes to Steven Knight’s script, which was already an adaptation of the novel by Sam Munson. Teen celebrities Ansel Elgort and Chloë Grace Moretz play Addison Schacht and Phoebe, respectively.
Addison and Phoebe start the film as friends. They go to high school together and talk in an old car about applying to universities. Addison, an intellectual guy, wants to go to the desired university in person and deliver his printed application. Phoebe reminds him that this can all be done online, but as someone who still reads books and doesn’t Kindle, is obsessed with David Bowie and thinks he’s smarter and smarter than everyone else, he wants to do things the old fashioned way.
They go into a coffee shop, buy a snack, and meet an African-American friend, Kevin (Jared Kemp), who is apparently a nice, smart, good guy. When Addison and Phoebe get back to the car, the boy has something to say to his friend. He claims that he is not as sexually neutral as she imagines and that he wants the same things from her that other guys want. This conversation sounds a little sexist, but not surprising for a self-centered teenager like Addison. Surprisingly, Phoebe reveals that she wants to lose her virginity to him. The two fly home by car and have sex for the first time.
Before I forget, Addison lost her mother last year. She had an aneurysm and that left her with some recent trauma. But he doesn’t like to talk about her feelings. Not yet. Until a new tragedy shakes the teenager’s world. Seconds after they left the diner door. A mysterious man on a motorcycle parks near the curb, gets in and shoots Kevin. Afterwards, he returns to his motorcycle and leaves.
A while later, the fateful event took over the news. A call from her mother on Phoebe’s cell phone and a message on her pager (because he’s a boy who likes to live the way they did before technology) from Addison and they are informed of the worst. Kevin was killed.
As the police investigate and begin to reveal that the crime was motivated by a gang fight, Addison, in disbelief, decides that he needs to start his own investigation, after all, the police don’t know Kevin as well as he does. Kevin was not an outsider. Then, Addison starts getting into trouble at school and outside while investigating the crime against her friend. This is his way of dealing with his grief and wanting to clear Kevin’s name. However, his discoveries take him down dangerous and surprising paths.
“Criminals of November”, which is on Netflix, is an entertaining film, but it has some problems that are probably the fault of the director, Sacha Gervasi. The protagonist does not provoke sympathy. On the contrary, he is pedantic, as well as slightly sexist and racist. Not on purpose, but some of his lines are problematic. Phoebe is a flat character, without much personality and uninteresting. Lucky it has good actors who strive to offer a good product.
Film: November criminals
Direction: Sasha Gervasi