Ultimately, as much as I may analyze a movie and deconstruct its various elements, the numerical evaluation I reach is achieved by nothing more than how it hits me on an emotional level. It’s a gut-reaction meter to how I felt walking out of the movie theater and driving home. With Honeyland, I walked out feeling it’s a solid 7, good but somehow not great.
Later that evening, my thoughts on the film prevented me from sleeping. I thought about how extraordinary it was to have this documentary play like a nondocumentary. That a narrative without narration could be so convincing. I had read somewhere before seeing Honeyland that it was a documentary, but other than being very authentic, it plays like a normal feature film. It’s remarkable how all the plot elements were so perfectly captured without actors and a storyboard. Or at least I assume it was all real and not produced ‘reality TV’ style. So refreshing compared to the last documentary I saw, the dismal Marianne & Leonard.
EXTRAORDINARY NARRATIVE WITHOUT NARRATION
Whenever a film keeps me tossing and turning at night, its number goes up the next morning.
Now a big negative that I’m sure no one else cares about: No beginning titles whatsoever is more than irksome. It’s like you’re trying to insult my intelligence. Do you think I don’t know the title of the movie? That it’s some great revelation at the end when you bestow the title upon us, the humble moviegoers? Just put the title up front, a-hole!
Apologize for losing it there a moment. One more thing: there’s a sense the film takes place in a far-flung, western-Asian place like Georgia, or Uzbekistan, or Afghanistan — but no. This is Europe. It turns out the decidedly Asian language is Turkish — though I did not recognize it as such. But the Asian part I got right. Throwing me off too was the equally Asian vastness of the landscape, which in fact belongs to Europe. I can safely aver that this is the first, and most likely last film I have ever seen made in North Macedonia. I didn’t even know there was a country called North Macedonia. And I definitely learned a thing or two about bees.
Comparison Notes: The Good Earth, Koyaanisqatsi