The arrival of an uninvited guest casts a shadow over an idyllic wedding celebration in this wonderfully fraught meditation on guilt and forgiveness, directed by prolific Czech filmmaker Jan Hrebejk (The The Holy Quaternity).
A picture-perfect wedding in the Czech countryside takes an unwelcome turn when a black-clad figure crashes the celebrations, eclipsing the new couple's happiness like a shadow over the sun. This mysterious outsider claims to be an old friend of the groom, but arrives bearing a gift that threatens to mar the festivities. The third chapter in a loosely constituted trilogy about suppressed guilt and secrets (also including 2009's Kawasaki's Rose and 2011's Innocence), Jan Hrebejk's latest film is a wonderfully fraught meditation on the (im)possibility of forgiveness.
Honeymoon takes place over the course of a happy afternoon, a restless night, and the harrowing morning after. The groom's professed ignorance of the newcomer's identity is the first suggestion that the mood is about to sour. After mingling with the invited guests and winning their children's affections, the enigmatic stranger enters the bride's inner circle and reveals the purpose of his untimely — or perhaps perfectly timed — visit. Within the space of a few hours, he progresses from interloper to confidant, but his disclosures threaten to drive a wedge between the newlyweds. Have they been too eager to ignore past mistakes, one another's as well as their own?
Hrebejk orchestrates the subsequent
developments with virtuosic assurance,
while, in a series of sustained
intimate exchanges, veteran performers
Ana Geislerová and Stanislav Majer
inhabit their baggage-laden characters
as they begin, belatedly, to see through
one another's facades. At once delicate
and forceful, Honeymoon is an elegant
exploration of morality and conscience,
played out against a pastoral backdrop
that betrays few hints of the provocative
questions at the film's core.