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Bees and dragonflies can't save the heartfelt 'Honeyglue'

Bees and dragonflies can't save the heartfelt 'Honeyglue'
Adriana Mather and Zach Villa in the movie "Honeyglue." (Zombot Pictures)

During a night out at a sexually libertine club, gender-fluid Jordan (Zach Villa) and quirky Morgan (Adriana Mather) collide with the gravity of soul mates. There's only one problem: Morgan's got a brain tumor and three months to live. This is the story of "Honeyglue," which plays a bit like a twee "The Fault in Our Stars," or "Me Before You," with a gender-bending twist. Jordan and Morgan embark on a whirlwind romance, draining every last drop of life from their whimsical adventures.

Stylistically, the film swaps formats frequently, hopping from the Super-8 camera that Morgan uses to capture the world around her, to animated depictions of the insect-based fairy tales filled with bees and dragonflies that Jordan tells her.

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Mather gives an embodied performance as the dying young woman, but Villa is the true discovery, bringing soulful intelligence to the role of Jordan, with a countenance that easily inhabits both the feminine and masculine.

Despite the central pair's propensity to slide back and forth along the gender spectrum,  meeting in an androgynous middle, "Honeyglue" is quite traditional in its messaging. Despite how good he looks in a wig and lipstick, Jordan maintains the masculine role of protector as he cares for Morgan in her final days.

Writer-director James Bird took inspiration from real-life experiences, and the story is obviously heartfelt. But despite a stylized, edgy surface, "Honeyglue" doesn't stray from the well-worn weepy narrative.

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'Honeyglue'

MPAA rating: R for language, some sexuality and drug content

Running time: 1 hour, 47 minutes

Playing: Sundance Sunset Cinema, West Hollywood

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