Thursday 13 April 2023

Honeycomb [1969]

 The third chapter in Saura’s delicious and delirious ‘Bourgeois Trilogy’ – preceded by the brooding and magnificent Peppermint Frappe, and the stark and tense Stress Is Three – was a sensational exercise in absurdism, and a lacerating satire on the bourgeoisie – their social insularity, vacuous existences, class privilege and moral quagmire, that’re allegorically manifested through subversion of the sanctimonious institution of marriage – worthy of a top-drawer Buñuel. Through its progressively wild and unpredictable narrative arc – it began with an excellent, low-key single-take sequence that situated the viewers in the brutalist architecture of the exclusive villa where the film’s super-wealthy couple resides, to the bleak and shocking denouement – and an unhinged chronicle of marital toxicity that explodes into unfettered chaos and pulpy violence, it heralded a manic eruption of troubling memories, repressed obsessions, lurid fantasies and grotesque fetishes. When the ultra-staid ambiance, sterilized décor and rigid order within the modernist residence of the glum industrialist Pedro (Per Oscarsson) and his gleefully naïve wife Teresa (Geraldine Chaplin) – who possesses an anarchic streak despite having always lived in oppressive domesticity – are suddenly disturbed by the latter’s unsettling regression into her Catholic past, and the appearance of antique furniture in the household that’re antithetical and anachronistic to it, it ruptures the pair’s estranged marital dynamics and provokes them into indulging in a series of increasingly discomfiting, deranged, kinky and hysterical role-plays that’re bound to end on an ugly note for both, even if they’re spectacularly liberated out of their states of moribund stupor and existential decay in the process. Chaplin, who co-wrote the script with frequent Saura collaborator Rafael Azcona, gave an exhilarating turn as the volatile girl-woman who catalyses the couple’s mutually assured annihilation.

Director: Carlos Saura

Genre: Black Comedy/Social Satire/Marital Satire

Language: Spanish

Country: Spain

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