Honeymood is now playing at BFI London Film Festival
As the late, great Peter Cook so eloquently put it in The Princess Bride, “Mawwiage. Mawwiage is wat bwings us togeder today. Mawwiage, that bwessed awwangement, that dweam wifin a dream”. Of course, marriage is not always a blessed arrangement. And sometimes this revelation can strike not long after the ceremony has ended. With many films over the years highlighting the disintegration of love from On Chesil Beach to Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Meanwhile in comedy Hollywood has long loved the honeymoon slapstick adventure with numerous dire entries to the genre including Just Married (2003).
Therefore, Talya Lavie’s new movie Honeymood enters a crowded arena of both drama and comedy. Her focus on situational ‘one-night’ comedy, echoing that of After Hours (1985) and Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist (2008). However, here the humour is both dry and playful, as Lavie delights in unpicking the relationships of her characters; each one skirting the boundaries of likability and connection. While at the same time continually shifting in their emotional attachment to each other and those around them.
Our newlyweds (Avigail Harari and Ran Danker) step into their luxury honeymoon suite, leaving behind the stress of the wedding ceremony. The exhaustion of the day painted across their faces as they settle in for a night of romance, relaxation and discovery. However, the loving atmosphere soon turns into suspicion as the groom hides a gift; a ring from his ex, the trinket holding a story he would rather not discuss on his honeymoon. But, distrust, nervousness and apprehension are not easily remedied as the newly joined man and wife embark on a random nighttime tour of Jerusalem. With each seeking answers in their past, while debating the current choices, they have made.
Lavie surrounds her characters with the sparkling and vibrant cityscape of Jerusalem. The cities nighttime economy pulsing to the same erratic beat as our newlywed’s journey through its streets. Meanwhile, the absurdity of their search is bathed in moments of pure comedic bliss; from a new robotic ring-eating hoover to ex-partners who still hold a flame. But its the performances of Harari and Danker that steal the show. The hope and optimism of romance slowly disintegrating, as they begin to doubt that love can triumph over the calamitous events surrounding them. As Lavie dissects the ‘happily ever after’ rom-com with glee, never allowing the film to divert from the delicious dark humour at its heart.
The result is a comedy that unpicks the very foundations of the rom-com. While at the same time providing an engaging, dynamic and fresh take on the genre. However, what also stands out is the theatrical dynamic at play, leading to a film that would feel just as comfortable on the stage as it does on the screen. And in a year where comedy has gone missing in action, Honeymood is nothing short of a delight. Its irreverent take on love, marriage and happiness shining with originality.
Director: Talya Lavie