November Criminals DVD Reviewed By Jon E Clist

The Premise
Inspired by the acclaimed novel by Sam Munson. And the hero of the book is 18-year-old Addison Schacht, a Jewish high-school senior in Washington D.C. The book is his response to the essay question, “What are your best and worst qualities?”. He explains he has only bad qualities, as illustrated by the events of his senior year. However, when his classmate is killed, he begins to investigate the death only to find not everything is as it would seem.

The Review
Ansel Elgort has certainly made a name for himself as a serious acting contender based on his work in Baby Driver. He added some interesting flavours to the character and while it is obvious that a decent amount of that relates to a solid job by the director. In November Criminals we see a deeper storyline building under the surface that is fueled by a general teen angst that is so typical of the modern-day films.

Before watching this film, I made the choice to not watch the trailer nor read too much about it. I really wanted to have a fresh approach to it. That being said, it is amazing what you make up in your mind based solely on the title of and actors within a film. For me, I seriously thought this would be a similar type of film and storyline to Baby Driver and I guess I kind of expected some humour, action and a bit of edgy darkness. The darkness was there, however the humour and action was not.

This is a film that feels a lot more towards the teen angst genre than the thriller side of things. It reminded me a little more of films such as Palo Alto, in its focus on teen feelings and relationships while it danced around a mystery. Not that it was a negative to me. I still very much enjoyed the direction this film took. I particularly liked the central relationship between Addison and Phoebe as played out by Ansel and Chloe. This is probably because this is not their first time on screen together. Moretz starred with Ansel Elgort in Carrie. I think this style of relationship fits very well in the modern world of teenage love/relationship where the jump from friends to hooking up and then to a potential relationship seems more along the lines of what we hear is happening amongst teens and early twenties these days. To have that growing relationship bubbling underneath this story of death, loss and mystery is actually kind of interesting.

After watching the film, I did rad a few other reviews as it came to my attention that this film is sitting on a 0% from 9 reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. While I know this is not a perfect film I found it hard to read the reviews and seeing that their reasoning for slamming it was so pretentious. Things like playing a modern-day PC race card as to who can be a hero and who should not. While we do know that art imitates life and life imitates art, I don’t believe that this has to be something that is a fixed definite. Why should film makers be tied to current social and political climates.

Anyway, while it does feel at times as though some critics have this believe in art before entertainment and based on that you might be fooled into believing that November Criminals has nothing to offer the viewer, I would say that it is a moderately enjoyable film that will give some entertainment to the audience and maybe challenge the viewer to see that even in the teenage world, things are going on behind the scenes that won’t be obvious and may change your view dramatically.

The Verdict
A pretty good film that fits more in the teen angst genre than the thriller one in which is it pitched. Great performances by Elgort and Moretz anchors a story that could easily have not been made into a film.

The Trailer

The Info
DVD Releases: 31st January 2018
Rating: M – Contains offensive language
Duration: 82 minutes 
Genre:  Crime/ Thriller
Starring: Chloƫ Grace Moretz, Ansel Elgort, Catherine Keener
Director: Sacha Gervasi (Hitchcock)

The Extras

Filmed in Providence, Cranston, and East Greenwich Rhode Island

Kevin Broadus' name may be a reference to Calvin Broadus, better known as Snoop Dogg.

In the school setting of the movie, there are actual students and teachers who attend the high school cast as extras.