Streaming Suggestions: Cold November

For me, the renaissance in coming of age cinema - American coming of age cinema in particular - has been something that has largely happened outside the mainstream, and much of that content is now emerging less through traditional cinematic and physical home entertainment channels and more via various streaming sites. There are upsides and downsides to streaming. One of the bigger downsides is that, as with a traditional release model, there is a bias towards the mainstream. A film with a proven track record of success in cinemas or with big names in front of or behind the camera is always going to get put to the front of the line for your attention. What is good about streaming is that even if a film has a much lower profile, it IS still accessible - you don't have to drive for miles to the only cinema showing it. You do, however, have to do some digging and take some chances on films you won't know much, if anything, about going in. 

In this series, I'm aiming to do some of that digging for you, to find the little gold nuggets that you may have missed in the mass of available options and get you interested in watching them.

Cold November [2017]
Dir: Karl Jacob
Depending on what your family is like, rites of passage can come in many different forms. For 12 year old Florence (Bijou Abas), that comes in the form of the first time she's being allowed to go out solo on one of the deer hunts her family loves. That hunt happens to coincide with several other markers of growing up, from being gifted the gun her mother and aunt both learned to shoot with, to getting her first period.

Cold November deals with growing up as a series of jolts. Some, like the arrival of Florence's first period, are expected and others are shocks, like the aftermath of the death of her young cousin, now at least a few months ago, but still raw. Flo attempts to take all of these things and more in her stride. Sometimes, as in a touching scene in a car in the middle of the night as she comforts her aunt, she succeeds, but the reality is that she still only twelve. Self-assured as Flo is, we see her vulnerable moments - both those she hides and those she has to make more visible - in Bijou Abas' excellent performance.

With director Karl Jacob taking a supporting role as her uncle, the family dynamic ends up grounded and credible, which is hugely important in a film that is never driven by plot over character and the direction, while intimate, pulls back enough that we never feel manipulated by the filmmaking. It is worth noting that the film doesn't pull back from the realities of hunting, showing what appears to be real footage of deer being skinned and gutted, so consider that before you sit down to watch this one.

Like many of the better coming of age films, Cold November may be at some remove from its viewers lives in its details, but  in the broader themes I would imagine it's very familiar. I'd recommend it for adults who like the genre, but also for kids of Flo's age, who will likely find a lot to relate to here..

Cold November is available for free in the UK with an Amazon Prime subscription.

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