You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Orange Honey

A well-appointed but unexciting historical thriller built around a young protag switching from one side to the other.

With: Iban Garate, Blanca Suarez, Karra Elejalde, Eduard Fernandez, Carlos Santos, Nora Navas, Jose Manuel Poga, Marcantonio Del Carlo, Angela Molina, Jesus Carroza, Fernando Soto, Barbara Lennie. (Spanish dialogue)

An Andalucia divided between Franco’s Fascist soldiers and communist rebels in the 1950s is the setting for vet helmer Imanol Uribe’s “Orange Honey,” a well-appointed but unexciting historical thriller built around a young protag switching from one side to the other. Although this reps a partial return to form for Uribe following 2007’s “The Nautical Chart,” “Honey” lacks real intensity, and a couple of classy perfs fail to elevate the workmanlike proceedings. Spanish auds’ resistance to anything about their Civil War has hampered local B.O., and the film’s old-fashioned virtues are equally unlikely to sweeten the offshore palate.

Fresh-faced Enrique (an unpracticed Iban Garate) is doing military service as a paper-pusher in the office of military judge Don Eladio (Karra Elejalde, from Iciar Bollain’s “Even the Rain”), who’s given to ordering summary executions of suspected commies following the farcical trials over which he presides. Enrique is engaged to simpering Carmen (Blanca Suarez), later revealed to have a more interesting other side. His ailing mother, Maria (Angela Molina), is in a psychiatric home. His friend Leopoldo (Jose Manuel Poga), a rebel doctor, continually chides Enrique for working for Eladio. But when Enrique witnesses the execution of Maria’s caregiver, Don Jose (Fernando Soto), for printing anti-regime pamphlets, he finally jumps off the moral fence.

The politics, history and passion are raw materials for something memorable, but the pic mixes them into plodding fare. While it does convey a sense of the fear in which Spaniards of the time lived their lives, incorporating chilling, surreal period footage from the Franco-run news channel of the time, it fails to deliver the portentous undertone of, for instance, Benito Zambrano’s “The Sleeping Voice.”

There are, however, a couple of memorable, touching scenes, particularly in the final 30 minutes. Enjoyable perfs from Elejalde and his sidekick, Vicente (the dependable Eduard Fernandez), are also welcome, with the script taking care to make both their characters multidimensional. Moreover, Eladio, while a killer, is also shown to be a loving uncle — though there’s never any doubt about which side of him will prevail.

The central relationship between Enrique and Carmen is too flimsy to carry the dramatic burden. Apart from one beautifully lensed, painterly scene between the two protags, their chemistry is limited; worse, the lack of character work renders the pic’s big revelation groan-inducingly implausible. A subplot featuring the potential romance between Leopoldo and femme fatale Ana (Barbara Lennie) seems extraneous.

Gonzalo Berridi’s widescreen lensing makes the most of some wonderful exteriors, with lighting neatly contrasting the cold interiors of Eliado’s office with honey-hued tones whenever Enrique and Carmen are together. As always with Uribe, period detail is excellent.

Orange Honey


Production: An Alta Classics (in Spain) release of an Alta Produccion, Fado Filmes production in association with TVE. (International sales: Alta Films, Madrid.) Produced by Enrique Gonzalez Macho, Luis Galvao Teles. Executive producers, Daniel Bajo, Joao Fonseca, Nieves Maroto, Enrique Gonzalez Kuhn. Directed by Imanol Uribe. Screenplay, Remedios Crespo.

Crew: Camera (color, widescreen), Gonzalo Berridi; editor, Buster Franco; music, Nuno Malo; art director, Edou Hydallgo; costume designer, Lena Mossum; sound (Dolby Digital), Antonio Rodriguez; supervising sound editor, David Rodriguez; visual effects supervisor, Helen Marti Donoghue; visual effects, Thorsten Rienth; assistant director, Antxon Zabala; casting, Eva Leira, Yolanda Serrano. Reviewed at Cines Princesa, Madrid, June 13, 2012. Running time: 101 MIN.

With: With: Iban Garate, Blanca Suarez, Karra Elejalde, Eduard Fernandez, Carlos Santos, Nora Navas, Jose Manuel Poga, Marcantonio Del Carlo, Angela Molina, Jesus Carroza, Fernando Soto, Barbara Lennie. (Spanish dialogue)

More Film

  • Child's Play

    Film Review: 'Child's Play'

    Something happened to horror movies in the 1980s, the origins of which can be traced a few years earlier, to “Halloween” and “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre”: The villains in brutally violent slasher movies became the heroes — or, at least, the characters audiences found themselves rooting for — which in turn created the opportunity for [...]

  • Radiohead - Thom YorkeRadiohead in concert

    Radiohead’s Thom Yorke to Release Solo Album Accompanied by Paul Thomas Anderson Film

    Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke’s new solo studio album, “Anima,” will be released digitally on June 27 on XL Recordings, he announced today. The album’s digital release will be accompanied by a “one-reeler,” also entitled “Anima,” directed by Paul Thomas Anderson (“Boogie Nights,” “Magnolia,” “There Will Be Blood”) and set to three tracks from the new [...]

  • HKIFFS and Heaven Pictures

    Hong Kong Festival, China's Heaven Pictures Launch 'Back to Basics' Film Project Support

    The Hong Kong International Film Festival Society (HKIFFS) and China’s Heaven Pictures announced that they will award six Asian filmmakers RMB1 million ($145,000) in a joint project to demonstrate how high-quality films can still be made inexpensively. The six films that emerge from the new initiative, titled “Back to Basics (B2B): A Love Supreme,” will [...]

  • Nuri Bilge Ceylan in conversation at

    Shanghai: How Nuri Bilge Ceylan Sees the World so Differently

    At a masterclass on Thursday, Turkish film director Nuri Bilge Ceylan gave the initial impression of being an austere and unwilling participant. Wearing heavy glasses, keeping his coat on, and responding to questions rather than offering a class, his manner suggested that he was difficult. In China as the head of the Shanghai International Film [...]

  • SpiderMan Far From Home

    Hollywood Takes on Italy's Vacation-Heavy Summer Season With Blockbusters

    With upcoming movies such as “Toy Story 4,” “Men in Black: International” and “Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw,” Hollywood studios are finally taking the plunge this year and slotting their blockbusters in Italian cinemas during the summer, a time when residents traditionally hit the beach en masse. For decades, the studios withheld their [...]

  • Easy Money

    Netflix Orders 'Snabba Cash' Series Based on Hit Movie Franchise from SF Studios

    Netflix has ordered a six-part original series based on the hit Swedish crime franchise “Snabba Cash” from SF Studios. Based on Jens Lapidus’s bestselling novels, the series is set in Stockholm’s gritty criminal underground ten years after the events depicted in the “Snabba Cash” (“Easy Money,” pictured) movie trilogy. The society has become even more [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content