Wild Honey Pie is an indie English “dramedy” about a married couple in their thirties trying to wade through the difficulties of life, family, and temptation. This is a very simplistic synopsis of a jumbled mess of a movie!
The movie stars Jemima Kirke who is known for her role as the neurotic, unreliable Jessa Johansson in the HBO series, Girls. And Richard Elis… from nothing you’ve probably seen before. Kirke’s character Gillian is a struggling, “quirky” playwright who, with her husband Oliver (Elis) are not only fighting the daily struggles of marriage, but also the tension of working together to put on an elaborate outdoor Shakespeare festival.
Even with Oliver’s parents’ vocal disapproval of Gillian’s erratic and obnoxious behavior and warning signs that she might be clinically insane, the couple seems to genuinely love each other and have each other’s back. Until one drunken night, Oliver kisses his old girlfriend Rachel (Sarah Solemani), which sets in motion Gillian having sex with Oliver’s best friend Matt, who she then leaves him for. Which begins Oliver’s quest to get her back.
“…couple seems to love each other…Until one drunken night…”
I don’t know where to begin with this movie.
First off, Jemima Kirke is basically playing the same self-obsessed, annoying, privileged character she did in Girls. In fact, it almost feels like this movie is some kind of “spin-off sequel” of that series. Maybe I’m biased because I absolutely despised Girls and found no likable characters in that entire show (maybe that was the point). But my bias aside, I did go into this film pretty objectively.
The story, just from a standpoint of just how relationships work… doesn’t work. Gillian is angry that Oliver kissed another woman, especially one he had a relationship with in the past. This is completely understandable. But, during that same scene, she clearly kissed and messed around with a female friend of hers.
So the next day as they both confessed that they kissed other people, she gets visibly upset that Oliver kissed Rachel and basically implies that her “girl on girl” make-out session was “not the same thing.” (Because it’s not cheating if it’s with the same sex?) Literally one scene later she is having revenge-sex with his best friend Matt (Brett Goldstein) after he recites some nonsensical, dirty poetry he wrote for her. One scene after that, she moves in with him. And during all of this, somehow, he and Oliver are able to do the “English gentleman thing” and still maintain their friendship with each other.
I guess to be fair before all of this madness happens, there are little signs that Gillian and Oliver have been having some intimacy issues. But they seemed to be normal “married couple” issues, and nothing that would lead to these wild leaps. If this confuses you, you are in the normal bracket. I watched this movie several times to try to make sense of it, and I just can’t!
“…a weak man who you want to yell at to get some balls…”
In the end, Gillian and Oliver pull off their festival despite that their marriage is in shambles. But it’s unclear whether or not they get back together. Nor do I believe you’ll even care. She’s clearly an awful human being, and Oliver is a weak man who you want to yell at to get some balls through the entire film!
I know this movie is labeled a “dramatic-comedy,” but you’ll be hard-pressed to even give a sympathy chuckle! The only thing that might come close is how ridiculously clueless the new boyfriend Matt is, but even that tires quickly.
The biggest compliment I can give this movie is that at least director Jamie Adams kept it short. And the performances by Oliver’s parents were strong enough to make some of the heartfelt moments believable.
There are probably those who this movie will appeal to. Fans of Jemima Kirke will love that she hasn’t strayed far from Jessa Johansson. And those who consider themselves to be one of those “quirky” couples might find some charm in it. But in my personal opinion, Wild Honey Pie is one you can pass on and spend your time doing better things… like poking at your eye with a toothpick.
Wild Honey Pie! (2018) Directed and Written by Jamie Adams. Starring Jemima Kirke, Richard Elis, Brett Goldstein, Sarah Solemani, and Joanna Scanlan.
5 out of 10