Evidence that the marriage between low-budget filmmaking and romantic comedy can still produce nice kids in the British Isles comes from the union's latest spawn, Irish-set "The Honeymooners." Pic draws engaging perfs from fetching, fresh-faced cast, and looks a lot better than one would expect given its reported limited resources

Evidence that the marriage between low-budget filmmaking and romantic comedy can still produce nice kids in the British Isles comes from the union’s latest spawn, Irish-set “The Honeymooners.” Although the film’s plotted along fairly predictable lines, first-feature helmer Karl Golden draws engaging perfs from his fetching, fresh-faced cast, and pic looks a lot better than one would expect given its reported limited resources and 18-day shooting schedule. DV-shot item is a bit too average and lacking in star power to go honeymooning very far abroad, but critical support could give it a very modest B.O. life locally.

Dublin office worker David (Jonathan Byrne) arrives at the church for his wedding to Fiona (Justine Mitchell), but the bride blushingly admits she’s having second thoughts. So they call off the nuptials and David gets blotto.

Meanwhile, across town, waitress Claire (Alex Reid, like Byrne largely a TV thesp) smokes a joint and waits for her married b.f., Peter (Conor Mullen), to come celebrate her birthday with her. But when he arrives it’s only to confess he can’t get away that weekend.

Furious, Claire goes to work, where she’s soon sacked for pouring a drink in a rude customer’s lap. In the parking lot, David offers her money to drive him to Donegal to a cottage that’s a lavish wedding present from his in-laws. Claire eventually agrees, and they set off on the daylong journey up to the picturesque seaside love nest.

Once there, the two prickly, wounded characters gradually open up to each other, but not without flinging a few home truths back and forth. Thesps’ sparky onscreen chemistry makes this section the pic’s strongest.

Although basically a two-hander, film self-consciously contrives to work in supporting characters to add incident. Final act, however, droops badly as it brings back Claire’s b.f. and David’s fiancee for showdowns, seeming reconciliations and an all-too predictable ending.

Though not an official Dogma movie, film was allegedly shot according to most of the brethren’s rules — digitally lensed with natural light by entirely handheld rigs and using mostly source music (by hip indie outfit Ash, which may give pic extra youth appeal in Ireland). Even the editing feels intentionally scrappy and jump-cut, though that may be due simply to lack of coverage. Still, the crisp transfer to 35mm makes the graininess work in pic’s favor.

The Honeymooners

Ireland-U.K.

Production

A Verve Pictures release (in U.K.) of an Irish Film Board, TV3 Ireland presentation of Samson Films (Ireland)/Utah Films (U.K.) production. (International sales: Portman Films, London.) Produced by Martin Brinkler, Martina Niland. Executive producers, David Collins, Lucy Darwin. Co-producer, Colin McKeown. Directed, written by Karl Golden.

Crew

Camera (color, DV-to-35mm), Darran Tiernan; editor, Martin Brinkler; music, Niall Byrne, Ash; production designer, Steven Daly; costume designer, Louise Kelly; sound (Dolby), Paul Maynes; assistant director, Philip Young; casting, Rebecca Roper. Reviewed at London Film Festival, Oct. 22, 2003. (Also in Galway Film Festival.) Running time: 85 MIN.

With

Alex Reid, Jonathan Byrne, Justine Mitchell, Conor Mullen, David Nolan, Eamonn Hunt, Briana Corrigan.

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