Honey (Bal) (PG)

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Review byMatthew Turner15/07/2011

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 103 mins

Beautifully shot and quietly moving, this is an engaging, if slow moving childhood drama that features the cutest child performance you'll see all year.

What's it all about?
Directed by Semih Kaplanoglu, Honey (Bal, original title-fans) is the third in a reverse-chronological-order trilogy of films about its lead character, but the other two films – 2007's Egg and 2008's Milk – haven't yet been released in the UK. Set in a small Turkish village, the film stars Bora Atlas as stuttering six-year-old Yusuf, who is only able to speak without stammering by talking in whispers with his beekeeper-slash-honey-gatherer father, Yakup (Erdal Besikcioglu).

Yusuf divides his time between school (where he desperately hopes to win a shiny red merit badge for reading aloud) and accompanying his father as he trawls the local forest in search of honey. However, when Yakup goes missing, Yusuf becomes increasingly silent and finds it difficult to communicate with his mother (Tulin Ozen).

The Good
If there was an annual competition for The Year's Cutest Screen Child, Bora Atlas would win hands down, as he's utterly adorable throughout and just looking at his sad little face is enough to make grown men go “Awwww ...” The problem is that the film rather coasts on this fact and perhaps overdoes the number of Impossibly Cute Child Looking Sad scenes as a result.

The film is beautifully shot throughout, thanks to striking cinematography from Baris Ozbicer; the lush forest scenes are particularly idyllic. There are also several wonderful moments throughout, most notably a shot of the moon's reflection in a rippling bucket of water and the surprise appearance of a horse that has catastrophic consequences for Yusuf's homework and leads to one of the film's funniest moments when he cheats at school.

The Bad
Aside from a severe case of Cute Child Overdose, the film's main problem is that the flimsy plot isn't quite enough to sustain the 103 minute running time and it drags considerably towards the end as a result.

Worth seeing?
In short, Honey is an engaging, beautifully shot and frequently moving childhood drama with a stunningly cute performance from newcomer Bora Atlas. Worth seeing. And can someone please release Egg and Milk in the UK?

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Content updated: 17/10/2019 18:36

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