HONEY (Miele) is such a quiet and unusual film that approaching it without knowing the key to its subject matter should make it all the more special. But you can bet that most critics will give away that -- and much more -- by the time reviews are in and read by the public. Too bad, because that may turn off audiences who otherwise would embrace the film, due to its exceptional handling of a tricky theme. At it core is a character named Irene (played beautifully by the fine Italian actress Jasmine Trinca), who earns the lion's share of her income using the alias Honey. What she does for a living (no, it's nothing to do with the sex industry) is our entry into an unusual world.
The Son's Room to The Best of Youth, Crime Novel, Piano Solo and House of Pleasures. Versatile and beautiful, in Honey she finally has a leading role to match her looks and talent.
Carlo Cecchi (below, right) -- whom I have seen many times previous without his registering all that strongly -- here gives a performance that will stick with me for good. The relationship that grows between Honey and Carlo seems completely honest and real, allowing for genuine sentiment without a trace of sentimentality.
Emerging Pictures, Honey -- running 96 minutes, in Italian with English subtitles -- is part of the Italian film package that began with The Great Beauty (which just the other evening copped Best Foreign Language Film) and will continue over the months to come with three other new movies. In New York City, Honey will play at the FSLC's Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, and in the Los Angees area, look for it at Laemmle's Music Hall 3 and Playhouse 7. To find other venues closer to you, simply click here, enter your zip code, click again, and see what arrives.
Note to self: Don't imagine that if you are digitally recording an interview -- whilst the hotel in which your interviewees are located is doing heavy duty construction work -- that you will record anything that can be transcribed properly. (The sound of the jackhammer trumps all.) Fortunately, Valeria Golino (below, right) and Jasmine Trinca (below, left) were so lovely of both countenance and personality that they made the few minutes completely fly by and then lock rather well into my memory.
"Ah, nothing is like it used to be!" declares Golino.
"You sound like an old person," I tell her. "That's what my parents always used to say, and now I am saying the same thing. But you're too young to say that."
"No," she says. "And it's true."
What do you think? I ask Trinca.
"I agree," she says. "Everything is worse now."
"But you're even younger! I tell her.
"Yes, but she's an old soul," Golino laughs.
We talk about a couple of Golino's somewhat recent roles -- in Ca$h (above) and the wonderful Kryptonite! (shown below: click and scroll down for my earlier review) that Ivan Cotroneo wrote and directed. "Did he have you in mind for the role from the beginning?" I ask.
"Yes, from the beginning he wanted me for that role," Golino admits, "and I loved to play it. When someone writes a role this good, this different, it is such a pleasure to do it."
"Because I was too busy acting," she says immediately. "There just was no time -- until now."
Did she have Jasmine in mind for the film from the start. "Yes," she says. "Jasmine came first, but I did not want her to win right away. So I thought, 'What am I losing if I don't take her?' and I saw others and others and others. But I always came back to her."
"You have women co-writers on the film, and you are a woman but yet your movie does not come off a a "woman's picture." You are equally good with all the men in the film, particularly Carol Cecchi."
"I am glad to hear that," she says. "That is a compliment. It's funny, because, yes, I loved Jasmine, and her character in the movie, but I am in love with him -- with his character."
"You deal with strong themes here but you don't throw things in our face. I never felt 'pushed' by the film that I had to feel one way or another. And I like that."
"Maybe because the movie is not against God," Golino suggests. "It doesn't go against God."
"No. Perhaps against The Catholic Church, and some other organized religions..." I offer.
"Yes -- but that is not God."
We sure agree on this! "Everyone's god is different, anyway. And my feeling is that we couldn't possibly understand god. We're just way too small potatoes for that."
We talk about Bellochio's Dormant Beauty and Haneke's Amour, in comparison with Golino's film.
"Now-- you: You haven't made all that many films over the past decade, I see from the IMDB. Are you just more picky?
Golino laughs. "Yes, she is."
Jasmine sort of agrees. "I don't know if you remember when we first met," she reminds me. (This was at a luncheon for the FSLC's Open Roads a few years back, and we sat next to each other at one of the tables) "I had just started out then and only made a few films, and wasn't sure what I wanted." Since then she has gone back to school, taken some courses and done a number of other things in tandem with making a movie now and again (you can see her complete list of films here).
"Then I had a daughter..."
"You have a daughter!""
"Yes, I do. You see: Everything keeps changing."
Riccardo Scamarcio, (above) and so we talk a bit about his career. Turns out that he produced this film for Golino, and so he has not done that much acting during the time the film was being made. "Now," notes Valeria, "he has gone back to acting in movies."
Our time is finished all too soon (and that jack hammer keeps interrupting every question), and so we bid ciao to these two lovely ladies, wish them well for the success of their film here in the USA, and then head out to babysit the grandkids.....