Talya Lavie’s Honeymood, is an infectiously charming jaunt that grows in confidence. Coupled with a smart script and a funny and relatable cast, this is a sure-fire winner.
A bride and groom arrive at their lavish honeymoon suite on their wedding night. When the bride, Eleanor (Avigail Harari) discovers her now-husband (Ran Danker) has received a ring as a wedding gift from his ex-girlfriend. Unable to rest and at Eleanor’s insistence. The newlyweds leave the hotel and set out on an expedition to return the ring. Their simple mission quickly derails into an all-night odyssey through the streets of Jerusalem. Throughout a single night, the couple is forced to confront past lovers, repressed doubts, and the lives they’ve chosen to leave behind.
From Eleanor’s first stumble in her long walk to her Royal suite with Noam we know what type of film this is going to be and what type of characters we will be following. Eleanor’s reactions during this journey are to look all around her, to be inquisitive and explore. While Noam wants to get her beautiful bride to the expensive suite and will not allow the bride to wander off. It is a small touch here, yet a wonderful one. To show the audience what we expect from these characters personalities. In one wordless scene shows the confidence Talya Lavie has in her writing and direction.
Noam is the type of guy who wants to please everyone. To make sure everyone is okay and that everything goes along the way it should. As the film and Eleanor’s acting out continues, he begins to stand up for himself more, culminating in a fit that his wife would almost be proud of.
Eleanor on the other hand is as playful as they come. An actress who couldn’t quite make it and took the dreaded drama teacher job instead, thinks she wants to be as she was. That marriage is maybe scaring her as she is “shackled”. Her flirtatious nature tries to come to the fore when she overthinks, but in the end, she realises that she chose Noam for a reason.
Of course, as the film unfurls, these personality traits are slowly broken away to reveal two people in their early 30s who realise that they may not truly want to be the people they once were. You watch these two seemingly have a pre-existing tension between them, neither perhaps fully over their ex’s. Leaving the door open for that horrible seed of doubt to creep in.
Our two leads are terrific here, bouncing off one another with the greatest of ease when they are on screen together. Avigail Harari plays Eleanor’s playful openness superbly and allows several smart choices within her character to shine through. Her facial expressions to guide her and allow us to see what she is thinking, perhaps even before she knows herself. This is a character that doesn’t hide behind a facade, despite being an actress/drama teacher. She is a delight to watch here
Equally Ran Danker has to play the straight man role throughout the course of the film. Slowly becoming more unhinged about the events of the night. It is a difficult enough role to play, but he does so with great ease. It would have been quite cliche and easy for his character to stay the same. Or to go off on a caricature of breaking down mentally in that third act. Danker is able to control the performance and he is the perfect counter balance to Harari.
What is most enjoyable about Honeymood is that these characters feel as if you have met them at some point in your life. We know a Noam or Eleanor. We know overbearing parents who go that little step too far to help their child. Yes, of course, some instances are outlandish and unlikely to happen. Such as the scene with the bodyguards, though wouldn’t it be wonderful if that could happen? But there is a lot of reality here. A scene deep into the film with Eleanor and a stranger walking down the street deep into the early morning hours resonated greatly. The ability to mix the off-kilter reality with instances that you can relate to is what makes Honeymood succeed and that is a testament to Lavie’s writing.
Talya Lavie very much improves upon her previous films, as her confidence continues to shine through. A wise choice was to not have us as an audience experience or see any part of the wedding that starts the day. We do not know what happened at the wedding and have to take what each says at face value. Usually, a film would start with something like this the day before the wedding. Then the couple gets married and all is good with the world. It is again, a very fresh take and a welcome one from Lavie.
Honeymood is a great romp that surprises throughout, a testament to good writing. Thanks to our great leads this is a comedy to sit back and enjoy.
To view more of our reviews as we cover the London Film Festival 2020, please have a gander below!
The Painter and the Thief ★★★★ – LFF 2020