The title of writer-director James Bird’s unintentionally hilarious tragic romance Honeyglue derives from a picture book Jordan (Zach Villa), a rebellious, cross-dressing aspiring artist, works on throughout the film: the tale of a dragonfly boy who falls in love with a princess bee, to the consternation of a queen bee that believes bees can only be attracted to one another.
The fable — rendered in the film through Kevin Weber’s animation — is meant to be a metaphor for Jordan’s relationship with Morgan (Adriana Mather), a conservative woman dying of a malignant brain tumor. In the three months she has left, she finally finds it in herself to tap into her inner wild child.
But the lengths to which Bird extends this metaphor become wearying. “Have you ever heard of a depressed dragonfly?” Jordan asks; later, he tells Morgan’s family that “she needs to be outside…so she can fly.”
Those are merely two howlers among many in Honeyglue, which is so busy jerking tears and ladling on the whimsy that it can’t even be bothered to make its leads halfway believable as people. Instead of explaining why Morgan feels a need to record just about everything with her film camera, Bird offers pseudo-profundities about the false nature of time. But if you consider an exchange in which Jordan calls Morgan his “realistic fantasy” and Morgan calls Jordan her “fantastic reality” the height of swooning romanticism, by all means, dive in.
Written and directed by James Bird
Opens June 3, Village East Cinema