DIRECTOR/WRITER: TALYA LAVIE
CAST: AVIGAIL HARARI; RAN DANKER; MEIR SUISSA; ORLY SIBERSATZ
ISRAEL 2020; 90 MINUTES; ENGLISH SUBTITLES
AVAILABLE BFI PLAYER
REVIEW by KATHLEEN BONDAR
Oscar Wilde once said “marriage is the triumph of imagination over intelligence” which
applies to the quirky newlyweds in Honeymood who bounce endlessly between euphoria and squabbling in Talya Lavie’s honeymoon comedy. Honeymood takes place over one night in Jerusalem during which the honeymooners almost divorce. The bride Eleanor (Avigail Harari), who wears a billowing, meringue throughout, is a playful, highly charged, drama teacher whose ideal of marriage is unleashed upon her compliant groom Noam. More grounded, Noam (Ran Danker) is swept along by love despite his misgivings about the wedding ritual.
The film opens with an argument on their wedding night when Eleanor finds a gift for Noam from his exe Renana – a compass ring. The genie is out of the bottle and Eleanor determines to confront Renana. Noam exclaims: “Why must we argue now that this nightmare (the wedding) is over!” The immediate look of regretful horror on his face is priceless. Leone’s discovery signals an eventful evening ahead during which we meet numerous characters in bizarre situations including Leone’s ex-boyfriend, a film student who forces the couple to critique his graduate production.
Lavie is a master of witty observations and deadpan responses. She sends up the couple’s honeymoon expectations wickedly. Both leads are given great lines of retort. When Noam comments about the clean air from their balcony at the Waldorf Astoria (presidential suite, courtesy of Noam’s father) Leone admonishes, “never mention the weather with anyone except your grandmother. It’s a total cock block.” When Leone cajoles Noam, “We will remember this story for the rest of our lives”, he responds, “I’ll remember the second Lebanon war for the rest of my life too.”
Some of the best lines are reserved for Noam’s cheery, stalking parents (delightfully executed by Meir Suissa and Orly Sibersatz) who happen to prefer his exe. When they take Noam home briefly (to feed properly), he notices photos of himself with Ranana. His mother tells him “they’re the only ones I have of you smiling.” He replies, “I’m stoned.”
After a while, Lavie gets carried away and veers into fantasy, rather losing the plot, as if paying homage to her favourite movies. Leone finds herself dancing with a troop of soldiers guarding the president’s grounds like a Marilyn Monroe musical and Noam finds himself in a goofball Danny Kaye style comedy with a suicidal psychiatric patient imitating a nurse. Eventually, the director reigns in and we witness the exhausted honeymooners crashing down to earth. At this point Oscar Wilde’s addendum “second marriage is the triumph of hope over experience” is perhaps more apt.