29th Aug2013

‘Fields Of November’ Review

by Chris Cummings

Stars: Louise Flory, Margot Kerlidou, Miguel Reyez, Peter Castle | Written by Chad Ritchie, Louise Flory | Directed by Chad Ritchie

fields-of-november

Over a year ago I heard of a film called Fields of November. The synopsis sounded like something I would want to watch and I watched teaser trailers and clips online over the following months. I saw the film last week and I will begin this review by saying that I wasn’t disappointed, something that can happen easily after wanting to watch something for a long period of time. The hype that you add onto something in your own head before something is released can be a very terrible thing, but in this case, it was the opposite.

A woman wakes, her alarm harsh through a silent room, and her eyes show a deep sadness, cold and red. The story tells of this woman, Sarah, and her strict routine, a routine that helps her deal with the loss of her soon-to-be-husband twelve months earlier. A loss she has never come to terms with or even allowed herself to heal from.

The long, distant shots of Sarah, her face often contorting to grief driven tears, are daunting and beautiful. Sometimes the camera lingers and you feel like you’re seeing things that perhaps you shouldn’t be seeing. Private moments in the life of someone who is suffering through hardship. The emotional response of Sarah after speaking to another man, the guilt in her eyes and the heartache she feels due to the guilt. It’s amazing and truly representative of the constantly-there ache and punch to the chest that comes with mourning.

We see the story progress as Sarah meets a friend of her late soon-to-be-husband, a kind man with a lack of pity in his expression that puts Sarah at ease and makes her feel a connection with him. The tale then turns to one that delves into the healing process. We see Sarah, a character that is so sad and conflicted to begin with, find a reason to smile again. It’s in these moments, where Sarah, played subtly and wonderfully by Louise Flory, shows a long awaited sense of acceptance, that are really moving.

There is a scene in the film just after Sarah runs into the male character, calmly acted with a quiet charisma by Peter Castle, that she begins to find friendship with. She has shared a taxi with the man and dropped him off at his apartment before going back to her place, her routine changed and interrupted slightly. The panic and sadness in her face in this scene, where she sheds tears and looks at her watch fearfully, is one of the most effective scenes I have seen in a long time. It speaks louder than a million words could have about how lost this character has become and how stuck she has found herself after suffering the loss of someone she loved.

Chad Ritchie, the writer, director, editor and producer of the film has a wonderful way of letting the camera settle on his characters, naturally affording them a sense of realism and honesty seldom seen in film. The actors, also afforded the chance to share in the writing process, seem like they are not in front of a camera at all and merely going about their day as we watch them from some invisible speck of light in their life. The score by Jason Solowsky is minimalist and subtle which works really well with the style of the film and the way in which it unfolds. Anything more and the dialogue and effective silences would be lost under it. So often I find that a score seems like it has been dumped into a film without any effort put into how it fits in, this doesn’t happen here at all.

If I had to find fault with Fields of November I would struggle, there is so much to like and so much to admire about the film that I had a hard time considering any negative aspects. The one thing I would pick is that the film is just not long enough, and I say this because of the vast enjoyment I had with the time I spent with it. I would have loved to have peered further behind the curtain of these characters’ lives and progression. It’s a small gripe, mind you, and one that further expresses my fondness for the picture.

Written and performed in a way I won’t soon forget, Fields of November is a piece of cinema that lingers over the suffering that people can go through after losing someone that they love. Set under the sky of New York City, a city bustling, crowded, bright and loud, we see a quiet and grey area beneath it all, like a still lake under a giant steel bridge.

Fields of November is available now and I urge you to pick a copy up. It’s an experience you won’t find elsewhere and one I won’t forget in my lifetime. A copy of this movie can be bought right here.

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