On Monday night, I attended the U.S. Premiere of John Sayles’ Honeydripper, which screened as part of the Opening Night of the IFP Market. It’s no secret that Sayles and his wife/producer Maggie Renzi are good friends of SXSW (they even attended SXSW 2007 with a then-unfinished-film to promote), but I will be the first to admit a lack of excitement with their most recent work. Sayles and Renzi may be, as Emerging Pictures’ Ira Deutchman decribed them at Monday’s screening, “the First Couple of indie film,” they still have a recent slate of mediocre work, including Silver City and Sunshine State. But, man, when they are good… they are very very good.
That said, I liked Honeydripper. While it has its faults, the film is a joy if only as a showcase for one of America’s greatest screenwriters. Sayles has fashioned a script in the “period piece” tradition that harkens back to his films Matewan, Eight Men Out, and the flashback sequences of his masterpiece Lone Star. Honeydripper is a simple story, richly told. Someone smartly commented that the dialogue, at times, sounds like David Mamet (without the profanity). In other words, too talky and too staged. I can see that, but I didn’t mind. The anecdotes and conversations performed by Danny Glover and Charles S. Dutton, felt natural and engaging.
Honeydripper opens in New York and L.A. at the end of the year, and I do recommend it. It’s not a perfect film, but it is John Sayles returning to a material and a style that is all his own. And, when John Sayles is good, he’s very good.