The art of photography means knowing what to exclude from the frame as much as knowing what to include. We learn this in “November,” a smartly assembled psychological thriller about a photographer who has trouble knowing which parts of her life — her memories, her feelings, her guilt — to keep and which to eliminate.
She is Sophie (Courteney Cox), an urbane Los Angelino photography-class instructor whose boyfriend, Hugh (James Le Gros), was shot and killed on Nov. 7 during a convenience store robbery. She was outside in the car when it happened and never really saw the killer, so she can’t help the police find him. She sees a therapist (Nora Dunn) but continues to be plagued with feelings of remorse and regret.
Then mysterious things begin to occur. A slide of unknown origin shows up in her classroom carousel, depicting what appears to be the convenience store on the very night of the murder. Does someone know more about this than Sophie does?
Cox’s dramatic performance is good, if not especially notable, and it suggests talents within her that have so far gone mostly untapped.
Directed by Greg Harrison and written by Benjamin Brand, the film plumbs greater psychological depths than most of its genre while maintaining a tight grip on the viewer’s interest. As the events of Nov. 7 play and replay, each time with variations, we are as eager as Sophie is to learn the truth, determine what really happened, and solve the riddle.
It’s solid filmmaking, moody and dark and evocative. It’s not the stuff classics are made of, but it’s certainly what 70 minutes of psycho-drama entertainment are made of.
B+ (1 hr., 10 min.; )