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(The 2018 SXSW Film Festival kicked off March 9 and ran all the way through to March 17. Hammer to Nail has a slew of reviews and interviews coming in hot and heavy so keep your dial tuned to HtN!)

Writer-director Jamie Adams’ Wild Honey Pie! is a brutally uncomfortable examination of Gillian (Jemima Kirke) and Oliver’s (Richard Elis) relationship. At the beginning of the film, they seem relatively happy, but the cracks are starting to show.

One of the main stressers for them seems to be their careers, specifically Gillian’s. She is trying to get her theatrical writing and directing career off the ground, which means Oliver must support them financially; but since Oliver’s part-time job does not pay enough money, his mother pays their rent.

Gillian’s career inadvertently introduces an old flame of Oliver’s, Rachel (Sarah Solemani), to their lives. Also, during the search for a producer for her new play, Gillian meets Gerry (Alice Lowe) in Cardiff. Rachel and Gerry serve as romantic temptations for Gillian and Oliver, truly testing the integrity of their marriage. Then, Oliver’s friend Matt (Brett Goldstein) shows up to stir things up even more. Jealousy, anger, and frustration threaten to tear them apart. It is kind of amazing how two kisses could tear a marriage apart so quickly.

Adams’ film may be interpreted as a study of monogamy, since the root of Gillian and Oliver’s problems is their stagnant sex life. That seems to be compounded by the lack of variety of things to do (including work) in rural Wales, although Gillian says the atmosphere helps with her creative motivation. But, essentially, they’re bored and they can’t find decent jobs.

The plot is refreshingly unpredictable, except for one constant, we know Oliver will continue to try to get things with Gillian back on track. It is clear that he needs Gillian, the question remains will she rediscover that she needs Oliver.

Wild Honey Pie! certainly isn’t an easy viewing, but the complex idiosyncrasies of Gillian and Oliver’s personalities make the experience worthwhile. They are presented to the audience in such a way that practically demands us to cast judgment and take a side. Couples may want to hesitate discussing Wild Honey Pie! because there’s a decent chance it will tear them apart.

– Don Simpson (@thatdonsimpson)

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