couples keep the wedding simple for second marriages, but not Radim Werner and
his fiancée Tereza. At least when you keep a low profile, it makes it harder
for unwelcomed guests from the past to crash. There will be no ex-spouses arriving
uninvited, but one mystery guest will thoroughly destabilize the celebration in
Jan Hrebejk’s Honeymoon (trailer here), which screens
during the rechristened Panorama Europe at the Museum of the Moving Image.
fate would have it, Werner’s thirteen year-old son Dominik breaks his glasses
seconds before the wedding ceremony. Fortunately, there is
optometrist-in-the-box right on the church plaza. Werner does not think much of
the man behind the counter, but he instantly recognizes him. Calling himself
Jan Benda, the mystery man crashes the ceremony and hitches a ride to the
reception in the country. He claims to be Werner’s old boarding school friend,
but the groom pretends not to remember him. The kids take to Benda, but he
unnerves both bride and groom.
will become obvious the lens crafter is not really Benda, but he shares some
complicated history with Werner and the real Benda. The truth is pretty ugly,
especially when the newly married bride is forced to confront it. Honeymoon is considered the third
installment of Hrebejk’s loosely thematic trilogy, begun with the excellent Kawasaki’s Rose, examining how the sins
of the past continue to influence the present. While not explicitly political
like Rose, it is worth noting Werner’s
boarding school indiscretions indirectly involved his teenaged lust for
Natassja Kinski during the height of her international superstardom, suggesting
the 1980’s, perhaps thereby implying he was the privileged child of Party
Hrebejk successfully taps into viewers’ deep ambivalence regarding weddings and
similar conventions. Somewhere deep within our inner Mr. Hydes, we resent
having to dress up and be on our best behavior for people we only share an
accidental relationship with. Like a Wedding
Crashers from Hell, Honeymoon delivers
the chaos we secretly yearn for at such times.
Hrebejk deftly plays a dual game, creating suspense through not-Benda’s
unsettling behavior, while dropping clear hints that he is more worthy of our
sympathies. He rather risks undoing the balance act late in the third act, but
he certainly keeps us on our toes. Ultimately, the messiness lends Honeymoon further credence.
the respective nemesis-classmates, Stanislav Majer and Jirí Cerny play a
dynamite cat-and-mouse game. They invest both men with sympathetic moments, as
well as profound flaws, making it impossible to reflexively align with either
one. Anna Geislerova initially seems to be problematically passive as the
newlywed bride, but she more than holds her own during a pivotal confrontation
with Cerny’s crasher.
is a mature film, in which karma packs a real
punch. On one hand, Hrebejk challenges how well one can ever know a prospective
spouse, while also questioning whether we can ever out live the moral statute
of limitations for our mistakes. Good luck coming up with satisfying answers,
but the resulting drama is quite compelling. Recommended for discerning adults,
Honeymoon screens this Friday (4/11)
at the Museum of the Moving Image, as part of Panorama Europe.
Labels: Czech Cinema, Jan Hrebejk, Panorama Europe '14