Get ready Whiz Kids! This week’s Netflix Pick is the tense, moody, and unsettling Honeymoon. Originally selecting the title (I don’t read descriptions for the Netflix Pick) hoping for an adaptation of James Patterson’s black widow killer novel I was pleasantly surprised by something more original and far more unsettling than a woman who loves money. It definitely doesn’t hurt the movie that Rose Leslie (Game of Throne’s Ygritte) is charming and adorable, until she’s not.
Tired of hearing your friends say they’ve watched everything on Netflix? Are you finding yourself saying that as well? Maybe the argument of people too cheap to shell out the 8 dollars are saying ‘there used to be good stuff, but it’s all crap now.’ Maybe you find yourself spending more time scrolling than watching. Well I plan to put those idiotic statements and bad behavior to rest. On a week to week basis I will give a solid recommendation or two on what you can sign on, turn on, and enjoy. I’ll try to stay away from the massive titles that everyone knows since those have been covered to exhaustion everywhere else. I’m looking for the hidden gems. The indies, the big name stars in direct to streaming endeavors that are well crafted and creative but wouldn’t gross the 300 million needed to justify a theatrical wide release.
Honeymoon opens on a camera confessional of sorts. Paul (Harry Treadway) and Bea (Rose Leslie) talk to their own wedding video to give the viewers (the audience) the lowdown on their history. It’s a cute story moment that is exposition but doesn’t feel like it at the natural way the actors bring the audience up to speed. Quickly they make it to Bea’s old family cabin outside of the bustle of their New York City lives. A third of the movie is the couple in pure post-matrimonial bliss. After a strange, and isolated, sleep walking incident Bea becomes more and more detached from Paul. She starts missing words, sentiments, and forgetting very obvious things. After an odd run in with someone from Bea’s past, Will (Ben Huber), Paul begins to worry.
The description sounds a lot like any other romantic dramedy. You think you’ve figured out the story already but, without spoiling it, there is a lot more at play than a love triangle, adultery, or a creepy ex-boyfriend. As the plot ramps up the tone of the movie shifts wildly in the most satisfying way. The light and fun Honeymoon of a loving couple becomes a tense prison sentence. The exciting thing about the small set and smaller cast is that the audience isn’t clear on who the prisoner is at first, or why. Both of the lead actors swap roles being the potential victim. The music turns ominous and the film is overall darker in a literal sense as well as figurative. The final 40 minutes of the 90 minute run time are so tense it’s hard to look away and even if you think you have the ending figured out the ride is incredibly engaging.
Seeing Game of Thrones actors out of their iconic roles can be jarring and often met with lackluster results. Sean Bean aside, it seems whenever an actor who audience members know only through the epic fantasy series it breaks some of the magic of the show and they simply don’t do all that great. Emilia Clarke in Terminator Genysis? Kit Harrington in Pompeii? Rose Leslie is absolutely the exception. Exuding all the charm that Emma Stone is so famous for, Leslie’s Bea is instantly likable. The chemistry between her and her onscreen husband Harry Treadaway is remarkable. Without knowing the actor’s personal history the on screen relationship plays out as real as any you’ve ever seen on the big or small screen.
The first third of Honeymoon is exactly what the title suggests, in the sweetest sense of the word. As time goes on Treadaway’s performance starts to feel… off. Not that the actor is doing a bad job, quite the opposite. He is doing a great job at towing the line of flirting with maybe a little something going on that the audience waits for the boot to drop. Without knowing what comes next every scene, even in the light fun parts of the movie, threaten to jar the audience out of their comfort zones in an instant.
Honeymoon is an exceptional example of less is more. The film portrays the love and history of the characters by starting at their wedding, but doesn’t cast wedding guests, family members, or so much as a priest to read the vows. The couple’s Honeymoon is a secluded endeavor so no further cast members are needed there. The entire cast is four people. With such a small cast the movie never feels small.
Honeymoon is a great quick watch. The tight run time, better than expected acting, and edge of your seat plot make it a lot of fun. This unfound gem should be put to the front of that long queue you know you’ll never work through.
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