- Movie Rating -

Honeysuckle Rose (1980)

| July 18, 1980

Honeysuckle Rose is a movie that I wish had gone through one more pass of editing before being released to the public.  There’s a wonderful story here about regret, familial discord, fractured relations and unwise love affairs, but it runs about half an hour too long.  The story is comfortable in the way that it settles into the familiar patterns of real life but it doesn’t have as much story to tell as the director thinks it does.

Willie Nelson is given his first starring role here playing a role that doesn’t really require him to stretch: He’s a likable, down-to-Earth, pot-smoking country singer who is having some trouble in his personal life.  He also sees his career as a bit confining; he wants to break out into national appeal after spending many years stuck as a genre favorite.  Is he playing a character here, or is he just playing Willie?

Actually, it’s both, but for the character he’s playing Buck Bonham, who is married to Viv (Dyan Cannon), formerly a singer who left the road so she could be a full-time mother to their son Jamie (Joey Floyd).  Neither is getting any younger and Viv is on Buck about getting off the road to be with the family before its too late to be a real father to Jamie.

Then a curveball is thrown into the situation.  When Buck’s guitarist Garland Ramsey (Slim Pickens) decides to retire, Viv suggests that he hire Garland’s daughter to take his place.  She is Lily (Amy Irving), young, sexy, 20-year-old and, not surprisingly is immediately attracted to Buck.  The May/December romance is not really a secret so, naturally, it causes problems in his marriage and in his longtime friendship to Garland.

Those are the tightest parts of this movie, and the story that is contained there is really good, though I get the feeling that Willie’s own experience was much harsher than the movie lets on.  Still, it has a very down-to-earth feel and we get some sense of the damage that life on the road does to a marriage and to friendships.  It has such an ease about, but well-mounted scenes at parties, family reunions, and on stage are allowed to run on too long.  It’s supposed to give the movie flavor, but after a while we want to leave those parties and move on to something else.

I appreciated it though.  I don’t want to sound ungrateful.  I’m glad that Jerry Schatzberg wants to spend a lot of time with these characters and observe how they interact but there is a value in leaving us wanting more.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(1980) View IMDB Filed in: Uncategorized