With striking compositions and cuts that reveal a deep appreciation of cinema’s possibilities, Valeria Golino’s Honey could be about anything at all and still demand and hold your attention; that the narrative is as moving as the film is aesthetically precise is an added delight.
Jasmine Trinca stars as Irene, a young woman who performs assisted suicides for the terminally ill. Irene has a relatively stable existence, with a lover and periodic trips to Mexico for work. Things become complex, however, when she supplies fatal drugs to Carlo (Carlo Cecchi), a man who turns out to be perfectly healthy.
As Irene tries to recover the drugs, she and Carlo develop an unlikely friendship. That last sentence might sound like a logline for a Hollywood buddy comedy, but Honey exhibits zero sentimentality. It’s a respectful work of observation that gracefully defers from psychoanalyzing either of its central characters, instead observing from an objective remove.
Golino thinks in images, not reductive psychology, and the film is at its sublime best when she applies formalist skill to depict otherwise unremarkable scenes — dinner in a Chinese restaurant, a dance in a nightclub — with deep pathos. In one heartbreaking moment, Irene dances against a glass wall, staring at a man dancing with her on the other side.
It may not sound like much, but — well, to understand, you’ll just have to see it.