Wednesday, August 6, 2014


A wedding party is infiltrated by a young man who, though apparently only fragilely acquainted with the families, is allowed to move among the celebrations, play happily with the kids and collar the bride and groom with strange sour notes of sin and retribution, of monsters in life who were monsters in the womb. His wedding gift is an urn of human ashes that bears the name he has used to introduce himself. He has come to tell the bride something important about her new husband.

The themes are sin and retribution as well as the perception of violence variously as horror and strength. There's not a false note among the cast. I could have done with less of the groom's brother's retreat into weakness but, especially as described by his wife, it has its place. The central exchange involves the intruder Ales telling his tale to the new bride. Long speeches in cinema are generally considered stagey but when given the camera's advantage of extreme intimacy the sole remaining factor is performance. Ales's tale is lengthy but expertly paced, carrying no fatigue. It's details are of repugnant acts of the woman's new husband and the pitiable effect on his victim (the ashes in the urn) who failed at outrunning his past until it pushed him out of a window. The woman listens with an increasing intensity but won't let this intruder draw tears. She reminded me of a prime Liv Ullman.

Later, as the pair are trying to reconcile we wonder where the memories have gone for the husband and what her forgiveness is made of as they play what looks like a folky game of spinning wedding rings. As this happens, a coda takes us into the dormitory and showerblock where the atrocities found place. We don't know whose memories they are but we can see where they have been put. What might have been a needless literalisation of the central abomination now serves to reframe the couple and allow us a shiver at any harmony that might ensue.

Von Trier-like melodrama from the Czech Republic, Honeymoon plays out its movements with a classical precision; allegro adagio menuet rondo, a minor key counter to every phrase in the relative major. The piano-led score does a lot of work, using the same chromatic theme to effect serenity and disturbance. While this film didn't slap my face it nevertheless compelled me enough to enjoy its frank dialogue and disciplined balance.

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