November Criminals (NR)

Drama 86 min. December 8, 2017
By April Wolfe
Watching November Criminals, Sacha Gervasi's plunge into high-school ennui and intrigue, I couldn't help but wonder: Fuck, are we still making kids read Catcher in the Rye? Ansel Elgort plays philosophy-obsessed outsider Addison Schacht, a kid who smart-assedly writes his 22-page college application essay on the topic of how he possesses no good qualities. He mentions that the college only provided a 3 1/2-inch space to write that essay, so it's clear that brevity numbers among those desirable qualities he lacks. Addison's friend gets shot to death in a coffee shop. Then Addison somehow falls into dealing drugs as he tries to solve his friend's murder -- but only half-assedly. What follows is something like Veronica Mars, only set in snowy D.C. and on heavy sedatives.

Is November Criminals about Addison's recently deceased mother? His leaving for college? His friend's murder? It never focuses on any one of these storylines, which all become quite tiresome, but none more so than Addison's fruitless quest to prove his dead friend Kevin (Jared Kemp) wasn't a drug dealer, like the D.C. cops say he is.

Gervasi sets us up for some intrigue, where Addison is the only person in the whole crazy world who stands up to the cops for immediately thinking that Kevin -- who is black -- would be a drug dealer in a gang. That's a compelling, if not white-savior-y, premise; only we find out that Kevin actually was in a gang and was dealing drugs. Oh. Take that, opponents of racial profiling.
Sacha Gervasi Ansel Elgort, Chloë Grace Moretz, Catherine Keener, David Strathairn, Allie Marshall, Terry Kinney, Cory Hardrict, Danny Flaherty, Victor Williams, Tessa Albertson Steven Knight, Sacha Gervasi, Sam Munson Vertical Entertainment

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