Thursday, December 17, 2020

Israel Film Festival Spotlight: Honeymood

I’ve had the privilege of screening a number of selections from the Israel Film Festival, which serves as a showcase for the best Israeli films each year. The 34rd Israel Film Festival takes place online this year from December 13th-27th, 2020.

Directed by Talya Lavie
Ticket Information

A wedding night is, for many, the happiest moment in the lives of the couple that has just tied the knot. They know that they have married someone with whom they can make important memories, and that they will operate differently than they have before now that their commitment to each other has been affirmed. There can be complicating factors with the potential to derail that inherent joy, including problems that have arisen either prior to or during the ceremony. Lingering doubts about previous relationships, for instance, can be detrimental, particularly if feelings appear to be unresolved.

Eleanor (Avigail Harari) and Noam (Ran Danker) arrive at the honeymoon suite of a fancy hotel in Jerusalem, and the initial excitement quickly dissipates when they are locked out of the suite and Eleanor finds an envelope from Noam’s ex-girlfriend, Renana, in his pocket. Determined to put an end to whatever bond still exists between them, Eleanor insists that they seek her out to return the gift, resulting in a tumultuous trip around the city that finds them both questioning the decision they’ve made to spend their lives together given the ease and frequency with which they find themselves at odds.

There is a great comedic rhythm to this film from its opening moments as the feelings of elation sour and Eleanor refuses to let Noam simply dismiss her concerns about things he might be holding onto that could affect their marriage. Eleanor has a wondrously adventurous energy, one that frustrates Noam to no end. It’s entertaining – and often uncomfortable – to watch the two of them bicker, but there’s even more fun to be had once they begin traveling and interacting with others, including a congratulatory cab driver and the various people from both of their lives who they end up seeing on their wedding night.

This is the second feature film from writer-director Talya Lavie, whose first film, “Zero Motivation,” was a superb and highly memorable dark comedy. Her follow-up is a bit stranger, with the occasional dance interlude and a host of overenthusiastic supporting characters, but it’s a welcome return. The number one reason to see this film is Harari, a familiar face from “The Other Story,” who turns in a fantastically unhinged performance that lets audiences truly see who she is and how she doesn’t want to settle for what might be a monotonous life if she has anything to say about it. Like Eleanor, this film has a great spirit, one that makes it a very worthwhile watch.


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