East End Film Festival 2018: Super November – Review

Super November is directed by Douglas King, starring and written by his frequent collaborator Josie Long, and is the story of a politically charged librarian (Long) in Scotland who’s fallen head over heels for the seemingly perfect man Mikey (Sean Biggerstaff), to the annoyance of best friend and flat mate Darren (Darren Osbourne).  Six months later, the film swiftly moves on to tale of political turmoil as Josie and her friends are fighting to survive in a period of civil unrest.

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Super November is an admirable film; there are few films that dare to take such a jarring approach to it’s story telling, with a complete and utter tonal shift taking place halfway through the film. Long’s screenplay hits on all cylinders. Impressively, it maintains a consistent quality despite changing everything up half way through. The first half is an excellent depiction of a tender romance story that tackles the dream like, honeymoon stage of a relationship before the more upsetting reality of it sits in. The second half achieves an anxiety ridden struggle to make it through day to day life that is incredibly timely given the current political climate. That said, the film’s shift probably shouldn’t be so surprising because the politics are present for the entire run time; it’s not presented as a subtle undertone, but rather the centrepiece to many scenes and conversations and not in a way that feels shoehorned or heavy handed.

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What compliments Long’s screenplay is King’s direction, as well as the cinematography that takes a compassionate approach to the love story and a terrifying one to the political discourse; the use of close ups in it’s opening scene, simply focusing on Long and Biggerstaff’s faces as they get cutesy on a drunken date sets the tone for the rest of this story line, and consistently delivers on it’s ups and downs. When things take a turn, the use of camera becomes far more harsh to set in stone the bleak and harrowing nature of life in Scotland at this time. The film is incredibly well paced for it’s length; at a mere 80 minutes long, the film explores all of it’s themes and characters to a satisfying degree without leaving any stories unfulfilled but also not bogging it down with exposition. It gets it’s point across and doesn’t need to try any harder to achieve what it’s doing. On top of all that, the lead performance by Josie Long is simply intoxicating; the whole cast are great, with Darren Osbourne in particular giving a great performance, but this far and away Long’s film and she owns it entirely. She effortlessly makes you feel her glee, her passion, her turmoil, her depression and her fear to ensure that this entire journey is as effective as possible. The entire film is good, but it’s this starring role that seals the deal.

Super November is an ambitious and brave low budget feature with an exhilarating lead performance.

Super November screens at the East End Film Festival on 20th April 2018.

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