November Criminals: Movie Review

novemberWhen I saw the trailer for this movie, I knew I was going to see it mainly because it starred two of my favorite up and comers Ansel Elgort, who simply killed in Baby Driver and Chloe Moretz, whom I just love absolutely. The premise seemed interesting and dangerous and while by its end, it didn’t bring out the level of suspense I was expecting, it was a pretty solid piece of cinema.

Synopsis: Addison is a regular high school kid who has his sights set on the University of Chicago. His regular life includes hanging out with his sort of girlfriend Phoebe (Chloe Moretz) and discussing literature with his buddy Kevin. One night, his friend Kevin gets killed off and his murder becomes written off as a gang related death. Unable to believe that his friend is involved in anything illegal, Addy enlists Phoebe’s help in conducting his own investigation to find out who really killed his friend.

I liked how the characters were built up in this movie, particularly Addison. His backstory was intended to make the audience understand his motivations but didn’t sell it too hard that it became a sob story.  In particular, I liked Addy’s tenacity. Although there were times that his stubbornness seemed like too much, that’s actually where Phoebe’s character comes in and tries to temper his impulsiveness with logic and reason.

Addy’s character was a mass of contradictions. He was smart but he wasn’t very wise about people. He had a single minded approach to his mission to clear his friend’s name that he didn’t quite open his eyes to the risk that he was exposing himself and his loved ones to. Being the kid that he was, there were times that he didn’t make the best choices. Luckily, he had the presence of mind to at least confide in Phoebe about what was really important and the dynamics of their relationship really made the movie what it was. Theirs was not a full blown romance but it was a relationship built on love and genuine concern for one another. Phoebe, in particular, stuck her neck out a lot for Addy.

I also loved the relationship between Addy and his father, and particularly liked the ending credits scene with the two men bonding over a home video of Addy’s mom. It seems that it was the culmination of Mr. Schacht’s efforts to reach out to his son and it was a beautiful moment in the film.

While I was expecting more danger in the film based on the trailer, the film was able to emphasize a sense of urgency about the actions Addy was taking to find justice for his friend. It was also able to underscore the importance of parents building a relationship with their children as it became not just a crime drama. The three scenarios in the movie among the Schacht, Broadus and Phoebe’s household, in particular, showed how much teenagers hide from their folks wittingly or unwittingly. Parents who watch this movie may be doubly affected by the scenarios presented in the film and how basically, educational institutions, try as they might, often fail to address teen issues in the proper time.

Overall, the plot was simple and the acting of the small cast was pretty solid to adapt the novel of the same name by Sam Munson. Writer-director Sacha Gervasi handled the film capably and the end result is a good movie.

All in all, November Criminals was not too dark or too gritty but it was filled with just the right amount of suspense and mystery to get audiences interested in the outcome. It was pretty solid in its simplicity.

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