Honeymoons

Honeymoons

***1/2

Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

A double header with similar themes, Honeymoons exposes the depth of dysfunction between traditional Balkan society and post Soviet global greed. In both, young love has no currency compared to dirty currency and freedom is a dream rather than a promise.

There are two weddings, one in Albania and the other in Serbia. Both are ostentatious affairs, given by men who have become rich on the back of the new order. It is not they, nor their arrogant acolytes, who matter so much as their underappreciated cousins and brothers, who remain true to their beliefs and, as a result, poor.

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Rok and Vevo are Albanian peasants, living in a village that has no telephone. Three years ago their eldest son Ilir attempted to escape to Italy in a rubber boat, but was never heard of again. His fiancée Majilinda stays with them, as is the custom, but cannot entertain thoughts of another romance until Ilir’s fate has been confirmed. Nik, the younger son, loves her and plans to take her to Italy to start a new life. The family travel to Tirana by bus for the wedding of Rok’s brother’s daughter, where they are treated by the rowdier guests as a reminder of rural poverty’s deep rooted backwardness, while Nik uses family contacts to advance his plans for Majilinda.

In the second story, Marko is a budding cellist, living in Belgrade with Vera, to whom he is secretly married. He has been invited to an audition with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, but first they must go to her cousin’s wedding, where he meets her family, especially her father who remains embittered by his brother’s capitulation to the corrupt world of national politics. Again there is evidence of cultural snobbery against those who do not flaunt wealth as the 21st century beacon of Western-style success.

In the end, this is a film, not so much about the destruction of values in a materialistic world, but the meaning of freedom for the powerless. When the young couples reach Italian shores, they find themselves at the mercy of circumstance and border guards. Nothing, even that which appears greener on the other side, is what it seems. Disappointment may be the pale shadow of fulfilment when love fails, through no fault of its own, to conquer all.

Reviewed on: 17 Mar 2010
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Two young couples leave Albania and Serbia in search of a better life further west, but find the reality is out of step with their dreams.
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Human Rights 2010

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