starring Rea Lest, Jörgen Liik, Arvo Kukumägi, Katariina Unt
screenplay by Rainer Sarnet, based on the novel Rehepapp by Andrus Kivirähk
directed by Rainer Sarnet
by Alice Stoehr A propeller-shaped demon drags a cow into the sky. An elder bargains with the plague, which is incarnate as a large and ornery pig. A lovesick girl changes into a wolf and back again. Such is the occult world of November. Adapted from Andrus Kivirähk's Rehepapp, a blockbuster novel published in 2000, Rainer Sarnet's film takes place a century or two ago, in an Estonian village where the boundary between life and death is porous. A procession of ghosts files through the woods at night. The raucous devil, his voice echoing, arises at a crossroads to barter for blood. Dirt-smudged townsfolk heed their every superstition, even when it means donning trousers on their torsos. The episodic narrative meanders through these folkloric scenarios, expanding its impressions of rustic life across a single late-autumn month. Insofar as the film tells any overarching story, it's that of a love triangle between Liina (Rea Lest), the sometime-werewolf, unwillingly betrothed to a friend of her father; intense local boy Hans (Jörgen Liik), all scruff and tousled hair; and the young baroness Hans moons over as she sleepwalks through a manor house. The three of them have their hearts vexed and hexed over the course of November. Imagery takes precedence over plotting, though, and the latter often gives way to cryptic allegory. The film returns now and again to elemental motifs: barren trees, ripples in a river, a damp and leaf-strewn forest floor. It's an environment where civilization holds little sway.