London Film Festival 2020
Newly happily married and giddy from the excitement of their dream wedding being fully realized, a couple starts to settle for the night in the (very expensive) suite bought for them by the groom’s father when bride Eleanor (Avigail Harari) discovers her now husband’s (Ran Danker) ex-girlfriend’s gift to the pair – a ring from their previous relationship. Disturbed by its meaning, Eleanor insists the pair embark on a quest to return the ring, confronting their past relationships along the way.
Taking on the cinematic trope of “One night in…” in order to keep this couple’s current predicament urgent and concise, the film shares more DNA with the frustrating circumstances of Martin Scorsese’s After Hours than it does with the romanticism of Richard Linklater’s “Before…” series, as obstacle after obstacle hit the couple from various angles, be it suicidal nurses or helicopter parents, eventually breaking the two apart to reconcile with their own pasts and desires in life. The film does a good job of enveloping you in the story, as the bride and groom make irritating decisions to extend their period of time in distress; a pattern of Eleanor being demanding and slightly high-maintenance whilst her groom placates her and goes with the flow is quickly established. Whilst this is slightly problematic – not to mention boring – in terms of gender stereotyping (the high-strung wife and the put-upon husband is a conceit well played-out), the characters feel lived in, and both Harari and Danker are charming in their respective roles, even if the couple occasionally baffle the viewer with their choices.
Honeymood is an enjoyable lark around the streets of Jerusalem at night, albeit sleight and a little unfulfilling…
At a comfortable 90 minutes, director Talya Lavie works hard to ensure that the pace is consistent and snappy, with varying degrees of success; despite its standard running time, some sequences feel like filler. A more surreal moment sees Eleanor commence a dance sequence with a group of bodyguards she meets along the way, whilst the groom momentarily falls in love with someone else. These moments are neither substantial in meaning nor visually absurd, living in a between-world that doesn’t feel cohesive with the rest of the (odd, but fairly realistic) experiences of the characters.
As a comedy, the film provides chuckles, but is not meant for laugh-out-loud broad moments, instead opting for the exploration of whether or not these people were ready for marriage in the first place. Believing it to be deeper than it actually is, further inspection on the nature of romantic relationships end up a little artificial and fairly obtuse.
Honeymood is an enjoyable lark around the streets of Jerusalem at night, albeit sleight and a little unfulfilling – its surface-level nature leaves little to the imagination with not much to explore after the fact – but its good lead performances, and the natural desire to see how a movie that takes place in one night unfolds, keep it from being a (completely) forgettable experience.