“A meandering journey through meaningless plot points”
Honeymood, from writer and director Talya Lavie, starts off as a promising romantic comedy: a newly-wed couple, Eleanor (Avigail Harari) and Noam (Ran Danker) giddy from the events of their special day enter a lavish honeymoon hotel suite only to find a gift from an ex-girlfriend in the form of a ring. The couple then go about on an absurd journey through the streets of Jerusalem in the hope of returning the ring, but what could have been a fun-filled adventure ends up being a meandering journey through meaningless plot points lead by two frustratingly obnoxious characters.
The biggest cause of frustration with the two leads are their character arcs – which is non-existent. Lavie attempts to explore whether getting married was the right thing for the couple to do, and goes deeper into their individual anxieties, but doesn’t provide answers to any of the questions asked. We find out whether the married couple resolve their conflict with each other by the end of the film, but they don’t change as people to get there. Everything in Honeymood is driven purely by plot, and there isn’t much of that. Even the film’s hour and a half runtime feels like a drag. We have seen in other romantic comedies characters who start off as morally bad people and learn to be better, but here the characters don’t seem to learn anything or change; making it difficult to get behind them and empathise with. Eleanor shows flashes of an eccentric, interesting character but is held back by her dramatic tendencies whilst Noam is a massively downbeat, obnoxious man. Intended or not, it doesn’t help make Honeymood an engaging watch. As the film goes on, our lead characters reiterate the same argumentative points, go over the same beats, and the whole viewing experience feels tedious.
Unfortunately, the comedy doesn’t help smooth things out either. Although there are some genuinely funny moments and situations, there aren’t too many laughs as the surreal comedy ends up feeling out of place from the otherwise mundane storytelling. What does work however is the setting. The city of Jerusalem feels so alive as we get to see different sights and the characters who inhabit them: students drinking in the streets, families in their homes and taxi drivers cruising through the many roads of the city. The camera isn’t flashy and authentically shows, mostly through handheld shots, what it’s like to be in the Holy City. Spending time with the citizens of a city rarely seen in mainstream film feels refreshing and these characters felt more engaging than the two leads.
It feels like Honeymood would have worked much better as a short, as opposed to a feature, since the themes explored only stretch so far and the story beats end up repeating over the feature length. Lavie has a great concept set in a lively location but she doesn’t seem to have much to say. When there isn’t much story or plot to go on the whole thing feels pretty empty, and the comedy and characters don’t do much to add entertainment value. The script here needed a stronger foundation than the newly-wed’s marriage.
Written/Directed by: Talya Lavie
Produced by: Eitan Mansuri, Jonathan Doweck, Marica Stocchi
Cast: Avigail Harari, Ran Danker