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Honey Dripper
UKScreen Rating:

WHAT’S IT ABOUT?

Tyrone (Glover) runs the Honeydripper Lounge, a traditional bar in rural Alabama in 1950; traditional in that the live music is old-time blues and no-one in town is the slightest bit interested in coming to listen.
Right across the road is a heaving bar that eschews the local tradition in favour of modern guitar music, but if Tyrone is clear about one thing, it’s that he won’t let a guitar anywhere near the Honeydripper.
When he realises just how desperate the financial situation is, he puts his tail between his legs and books the latest singing sensation Guitar Sam to play at the bar to draw in enough customers to keep his afloat.
The landlord is closing in on him and he can’t even get credit from his drinks provider – this has to work.
He’s so busy preparing for his big night that he doesn’t have any time for the lonely drifter, Sonny (Clark), who’s just arrived in town with his guitar, looking for work.
After giving him one hot meal, Tyrone sends Sonny off to his fate – he’s arrested for vagrancy and sentenced to do time in the cotton fields.
Then, disaster strikes, when Tyrone turns up to the station to meet Guitar Sam off the train to be told that he’s unwell and couldn’t make it.
Tyrone has only one chance – no-one knows what Guitar Sam looks like, so he could try to pass Sonny off as everyone’s favourite radio star – but to get him released from the cotton fields, he has to promise the slimy sheriff (Keach) a share of the bar.
You can almost hear him shouting “It’s a million-to-one shot, but it might just work…”

WHAT’S IT LIKE?

This is one of those films that’s so warm and charming, you want to like it much more than you do.
You’re willing Tyrone to succeed, even though he’s a bit of a cantankerous old buffoon – his best friend (Dutton), wife (Hamilton) and step-daughter (Dacosta) are so delightfully genial that they encourage you to like him.
Keach’s sleazy sheriff, in his own way, also elicits sympathy for Tyrone.
But one problem with the whole set up is that it’s just not that original – a businessman making a last-ditch attempt to secure his future just seems too familiar a theme to jump off the screen without an added level of drama or something else to make it stand out from the crowd.
Universally strong performances aren’t enough to sell this film, because in reality, films without universally strong performances shouldn’t even come into the equation.
It’s a “nice” film that will leave you feeling good when you leave the cinema, but you won’t feel in any way challenged or taxed while you’re watching it.
John Sayles – who makes a characteristic cameo as a jobsworth booze deliveryman – usually tackles more intellectually stimulating subjects, so this standard drama rather falls flat.

opens nationwide 9th May 2008

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