Watching Honey (Bal) is like watching a chef who is making a simple and yet quite difficult dish. He is very deliberate with his actions and he is taking his time to do everything. Whilst impatience creeps in from time to time, you are enamoured by his artistry and equally intrigued on what the end cuisine would be. This is what Honey is like.
Honey is my fourth movie from the 2011 Bigpond Adelaide Film Festival and by the time I saw the opening scene, I didn’t know anything about the movie. I deliberately didn’t refresh my memory on why I picked the movie in the first place so I wouldn’t have any expectations. I’ve just read that it actually won the 2010 Golden Bear award at the 60th Berlin International Film Festival.
As I mentioned previously, Honey is very leisurely paced (read: slow). However, after you immerse yourself in the movie, you feel rather guilty on wanting to rush things – the movie gives you a sense as if you were a silent observer in this village household and although you wish you could shout and tell the inhabitants to move faster, you realise that it’s their natural life and pace. In that regard, the director Semih Kaplanoğlu perfectly captures the characters’ life very well. The characters don’t seem acting nor artificial at all – especially the main character, Yusuf. The story is about Yusuf, a small boy who has a close bond with his father, a beefarmer deep in the hinterland of Turkey. Yusuf would stutter when he is asked to read at school, and yet can read out loud when he is with his father. With his mum, he tends to be quiet as well, choosing not to say anything – while his dad would encourage Yusuf to just whisper it to him, if he doesn’t want to say things loudly. Tragedy strikes when Yusuf’s dad falls down while trying to put a beehive in a new location.
The boy actor who plays Yusuf (Bora Altaş) – is really something. Although the movie has minimal conversation and background music, Yusuf’s facial expression and silence convey a million of words. He seems a natural artist – showing a range of emotions from defiance to disappointment equally well.
It’s a movie that is a bit hard for me to review. Although there are things that I wish were different, the end result is a movie that is ‘interesting’ in its own right – like a dish that you wouldn’t order again but still think that it’s pretty good and different. Some viewers walked out third-quarter of the movie, presumably they couldn’t stand the slow pace of the film. I stayed on and although the ending is a bit peculiar, all in all, I quite enjoyed it.