Dir: Jan Hřebejk. Czech Republic-Slovak Republic. 2013. 92mins
The wedding ceremony and reception are much used backdrops for both comedies and dramas, and while on the surface Jan Hřebejk’s film starts out like a well-meaning addition to a list of similar films he gradually weaves some welcoming darkness into the frothy and cheerful façade, concocting a film that is both beautiful and memorable.
A nicely sustained and elegantly intimate drama, Honeymoon is an elegantly made film driven by three thoughtful central performances which help keep the story tense – but never brutally dramatic – and intriguing.
According to the director, Honeymoon concludes a loose trilogy of contemporary film stories that began with Kawasaki’s Rose, and continued with Innocence, with each film at their core dwelling on a secret buried in the past that comes back to haunt the films’ characters. Honeymoon had its world premiere in competition at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival.
The film also reunites Jan Hřebejk with Czech actress Ana Geislerová, who has featured for him in four films now, and won Czech Lion awards for lead roles in Hřebejk’s films Beauty In Trouble (2006) and Innocence (2007).
In Honeymoon, she plays the lead role of Tereza, who finds her perfect wedding day and reception under threat from the past. Tereza and new husband Radim (Stanislav Majer) make a seemingly perfect couple, despite the fact that both have been married before and still have issues and scars…Tereza a broken heart and Radim an adolescent son.
On a sunny day and with friends around them, they have a blissful wedding ceremony before heading off for a few days of partying at a beautiful country house (the film was shot in South Bohemia) surrounded by their friends.
But they begin to notice an uninvited guest named Jan Benda (Jiří Černý) who claims to be an old school friend of Radim. Though odd in manner and vague in conversation, he gets on with their friends, plays with the children and seems unthreatening. But his wedding gift turns out to be an urn full of ashes, and his presence starts to create cracks in Tereza and Radim’s relationship, especially as the truth about how he knew Radim is slowly revealed.
A nicely sustained and elegantly intimate drama, Honeymoon is an elegantly made film driven by three thoughtful central performances which help keep the story tense – but never brutally dramatic – and intriguing. Further festivals will be a certainty for the film, which opens in the Czech Republic on August 22.
Production companies: Fog’n’Desire Films, s.r.o., Czech Television, K Film Plus, Sokol Kollar, Trigon Production
Sales contact: Fog’n’Desire Films, email@example.com
Producers: Viktor Tauš, Michal Kollár
Executive producer:Jaroslav Kučera
Screenplay: Petr Jarchovský
Cinematography: Martin Štrba
Editor: Alois Fišárek
Production designer: Jan Kadlec
Music: Aleš Březina
Main cast: Anna Geislerová, Stanislav Majer, Jiří Černý, Kristyna Fuitova, David Maj, Jiri Sestak