‘Honeymoon with My Mother’ is no vacation



“Honeymoon with My Mother” offers the story of a man who finds himself on a journey with his mother, but the movie never truly delivers on the deeper topics that it explores.

Clare McRoberts, Reporter

The bride and groom stand at the altar, friends and family gazing at them, when a red car screeches up. A man jumps out and whisks away the bride-to-be, leaving the groom stunned and mortified. It is a captivating opening scene. It is also the last scene in “Honeymoon with My Mother” that captivates.

“Honeymoon With my Mother,” a new Netflix movie, explores the depth and texture of the lives of middle-aged women, but it is executed in a way that diminishes this important topic, causing it to become creepy and sappy all at once.

In the movie, which came out on April 29 in Spanish, the main character José Luis, played by Quim Gutiérrez, finds himself taking a honeymoon with, of all people, his mother, Mari Carmen, after his humiliating jilting. The movie captures José Luis and his mom, played by Carmen Machi, visiting a resort off the coast of Africa. Much of what follows involves the pair’s antics as they pretend to be husband and wife to keep their hotel suite. But the deeper journey is an exploration of personal struggles, relationship woes and hopes for the future for both mother and son. 

There are reasons to admire this movie. Perhaps its most redeeming quality is how it portrays the mother character. The first impression of Mari Carmen is of a well-meaning — but embarrassing and stereotypical — mom. But through the movie, her character develops into a surprising and multidimensional human being in a way that women over 40  are rarely shown to be. Mari Carmen has aspirations, thoughts and regrets, a refreshing representation of this demographic.

Still, the movie suffers from essential flaws, especially in the plot. At one point, Mari Carmen suddenly becomes enamored with smoking marijuana, and she and her son end up arrested. This seems to send the movie in a jarring and unlikely direction. But they are promptly and inexplicably bailed out, and the whole marijuana plot vanishes abruptly. At root, the movie’s basic premise is a mildly disturbing exploration of the Oedipus complex, a topic that has been explored in literature, psychology and film practically forever. The notion of a son marrying his mother — the complex, in a nutshell — is interesting, but the movie’s off-putting manner of addressing it actually diminishes a larger conversation. In the movie’s end, for instance, José Luis gives a speech about his appreciation for his mother, which comes off as hokey and creepy, culminating with the line: “She’s not my wife, she’s the love of my life,” before an awkward embrace. One can’t help but cringe.

Mothers, in particular, may find that this movie celebrates them. Yet one can’t overlook the plethora of plot holes, icky exchanges, and, at root, a disturbing concept. Surely, there’s a way to convey the depth and nuance of mom-aged women without diving into this honeymoon nightmare.