Domont’s Debut Is An Electrical, Intoxicating Thriller [Sundance]


Honest Play is intoxicating and thrilling, unraveling slowly however certainly till it reaches a sensational finale that’s as crushing as it’s highly effective. 

Social conditioning, gender roles, competitors, and the way they have an effect on a romantic relationship are on the forefront of Honest Play, a movie that can have viewers on the fringe of their seats. Written and directed by Chloe Domont, Honest Play is intoxicating and thrilling, unraveling slowly however certainly till it reaches a sensational finale that’s as crushing as it’s highly effective.

Emily (Bridgerton’s Phoebe Dynevor) and Luke (Solo: A Star Wars Story’s Alden Ehrenreich) are a New York couple who’re in love and able to get married. They’re not able to announce their engagement, although, as a result of they’re each monetary analysts on the identical firm and their relationship has but to go public. When Emily is promoted, to a place Luke was satisfied he was going to get, their relationship turns into strained. Because the movie goes on, the couple spirals and issues get extremely tense, as Luke begins to behave on his gendered conditioning, which closely impacts the closeness he and Emily share.


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Although Honest Play appears somewhat easy, it leaves audiences guessing as to the place it’s going to go subsequent. Domont’s writing is putting and cutthroat, attending to the center of gender and energy dynamics with out spoon-feeding its message to viewers. The drama is extremely fierce and builds the strain between its characters with out ever getting forward of itself. It takes its time, however the pacing is swift, and the enhancing is excellent. A lot of the depth is due to the best way the movie is shot.

Cinematographer Menno Mans is usually targeted on Dynevor and Ehrenreich’s faces as they’re listening to others or peering intently at each other or across the workplace. This creates an electrical power that’s virtually hypnotizing and nail-biting, particularly because the couple’s points start to extend over the course of the movie and the emotional efficiency rises. Domont takes Honest Play to some fairly darkish locations, and it’s thrilling and daunting to observe . By no means has the monetary world been extra riveting and the emotions all through so visceral.

The place the movie excels is in its exploration of social conditioning and gender dynamics. Luke looks like a progressive man, and he tried actually arduous to be supportive, however there’s one thing inside him that merely snaps, and the movie showcases how straightforward it may be to slide again into assumed societal norms and gender roles. Had Luke been the one to get a promotion, Honest Play would have been a very totally different movie. The couple says and does some pretty terrible issues, however the coronary heart of the story is primarily in Luke’s dealing with of the scenario.

The movie additionally explores how Emily, as a lady, navigates her new place and the facility it brings, particularly as she is surrounded by males in excessive positions. The movie masterfully reveals the domino results of this promotion and all of the layers that come to mild inside the couple’s relationship. What’s extra, Domont trusts the viewers to place the items collectively and leaves room for considerate evaluation. This isn’t a movie that’s straightforward to overlook and leaves fairly an impression. It’s extremely highly effective and magnetic, leaning into the duress and emotional heaviness of its topic with aplomb.

After all, Honest Play is elevated by powerhouse performances from Dynevor and Ehrenreich. They’re distinctive, bringing a lot nuance via their glances and physique language. Generally they don’t should say something at al and the viewers will perceive precisely what’s going on of their heads. Each actors convey the deep love and affection Emily and Luke have for one another privately, whereas switching up their demeanors at their jobs. There may be a lot to dissect of their performances that it’ll require one other watch. It’s exhilarating to observe them go toe-to-toe with each other, and Dynevor and Ehrenreich actually deliver all the things they’ve acquired.

With such sturdy performances, tight writing and path, Honest Play is a must-see. It’s sudden, sneaking up on audiences slowly earlier than they discover they’re knee-deep into the story and prepared for the wild, head-spinning trip. Domont’s function is sometimes uncomfortable to observe due to how issues unravel, but it surely’s unnerving and completely heart-pounding in all the most effective methods. An exceptionally sturdy function debut from Domont.

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Honest Play premiered on the 2023 Sundance Movie Competition on January 20. The movie is 113 minutes lengthy and never but rated.


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