Novem (DVD Review)18 Oct, 2009 By: Billy Gil
Prebook 10/20/09; Street 11/17/09
Novem is a documentary-style drama about a college student who unearths recordings from a band of students from the 1970s and seeks to find out who they were. The fact that the story seems real is the film’s greatest virtue.
The story of the band called Novem is a tragic one: The band records an epic hippie-rock album during one summer of partying but dies in a car wreck. The unreleased music is shelved and forgotten. When a modern-day college student finds the recordings and reels of film footage, he and his friends feel a kinship for Novem, with college radio picking up the songs.
Writer-director Brad Kimmel along with co-writer Patrick O’Connor have gone to great lengths to make Novem feel real, hiring musicians to record several songs and also star in the film, which weaves together the “modern” footage with the “found” reels. It at first seems as though the story behind the film is real and the filmmakers have just re-shot the footage and re-recorded the songs, so it’s kind of cool that they manage to pull off a Blair Witch-style film trick.
However, there are problems with Novem. The music is well-produced — perhaps overly so — but it does not feel authentic, as it seems more like ’90s grunge, nor is it particularly memorable. Also the film doesn’t have much of a story beyond its unique premise.
But the naturalistic acting does work in favor of Novem, and the best parts of the film make you feel like you’re partying and hanging out with these kids.