Runtime: 90 Minutes
Writer/Director: Talya Lavie
Stars: Avigail Harari, Ran Danker, Dan Amroussi
By Simon Whitlock
As someone once wrote for another marriage-based comedy, the course of true love never did run smooth. And so it is in “Honeymood”, the latest feature from Israeli writer-director Talya Lavie, about a newlywed couple having the wedding night from hell.
The bride and groom in question are Eleanor (Avigail Harari) and Noam (Ran Danker), who at the start of the film find themselves desperate to make the perfect start to married life, with Eleanor insisting on entering their honeymoon suite properly – requiring several versions of being carried by Noam – and resisting the urge to tear straight into their wedding presents. That is except for an envelope found for Noam from his ex, containing a ring, much to Eleanor’s chagrin. It’s this little gesture which kicks off Eleanor and Noam’s first argument as a married couple, and which sends the two out of their hotel and onto the streets of Jerusalem, as Eleanor demands the ring be returned immediately.
This journey makes up the bulk of the film, as the couple make their way across the city at night; encountering old flames, family and assorted night-crawlers while trying to liberate themselves of Noam’s unwelcome present. These lead to some of “Honeymood”’s finer comedic moments, including a painful visit to Eleanor’s ex-boyfriend’s film school. The film’s highlight though comes around the halfway point, when the trek across town slows for a charming little dance routine flight of fancy, between Eleanor and a group of bodyguards.
” The film’s conceit is strong and the performances, for the most part, might be enough for some to stick with it, but the expectation for a film premiering at the London Film Festival under the “Laugh” strand deserves a little more on screen at which to, well, laugh.”
However, there’s an awful lot of movement between these encounters, and the film struggles to keep up the pace of the first act over its full runtime. The two leads do their best to try and prevent the film’s energy from flagging, but when they get separated by the needs of the plot partway through the journey to return the ring, things start to fall apart. The film’s nadir comes around its third act, where a character introduced to Noam ends up being the butt of a particularly mean-spirited joke at the expense of people struggling with mental health issues. It’s by far the film’s least funny joke, and also the one on which “Honeymood” builds its climax; a frosty reunion for Eleanor and Noam back at the honeymoon suite.
Writer-director Lavie’s filmography to date is mostly based in short films – “Honeymood” is her second feature – and this does feel like it might have been better if the film had been trimmed down to a shorter running time. The film’s conceit is strong and the performances, for the most part, might be enough for some to stick with it, but the expectation for a film premiering at the London Film Festival under the “Laugh” strand deserves a little more on screen at which to, well, laugh.