‘Honeymoonish’ Review: A Decent Romantic Comedy From The Land Of Khaleej Mimics Many Hollywood Films

Valentine’s Day has come and gone, and still, there are romantic movies and shows dropping on several OTT platforms that manage to cling to one’s heart. The whole point of a romantic comedy is to make the audience believe in the love and goodness of characters who would do anything for the people they care about. Over the years, Hollywood and Hindi movies have predominantly made us believe that love conquers all and that people will find what they are seeking eventually. Honeymoonish is the Netflix Middle East Original from Kuwait that chronicles the story of a newly married couple with two different motivations behind tying the knot. Released on April 29, 2024, this movie will pleasantly surprise you.


Hamad Saleh, an heir to his father’s many firms, was about to make an important business deal when his father interfered and stalled his plans. His father requests that he get married and get his wife pregnant to inherit his properties and receive financial backing for Hamad’s new company. Noor, on the other hand, is a fitness trainer whose boyfriend Youssef left her unceremoniously and married another woman. Hamad and Noor are desperately in need of a partner to suit their agendas. Hamad needs a wife to retain his inheritance, while Noor wants to make Youssef jealous by flaunting her new spouse. Both meet through their friends Wael and Amal and decide to get married against their better instincts. Did the newly married couple fall in love or end up hating each other? Do Hamad and Noor share the real reasons behind the urgency with which they married one another?

Honeymoonish has a run time of one hour and forty minutes, and within that time this Kuwaiti film directed by Elie Semaan manages to deliver a clean romantic comedy that is filled with cheesy as well as good moments. The misconception about Arab romantic films being over the top could be pushed aside, as this film written by Eiad Saleh is easy breezy. 


The screenplay at times feels stretched and dodgy, but it is the humor infused in it that shoulders the film from the start until the end. It is entertaining to watch two good-looking leads willing to act goofy throughout, which eventually forms the reason for the two falling for each other. It is essential to give time to the lead characters to get comfortable and develop feelings for each other, and this movie does that. It is endearing to watch two people who seem to be completely incompatible find a way to fall in love. Even though the screenplay takes a lot of unnecessary diversions, all of them eventually come back to the lead and their arcs. The movie is light in content and there is not much to take away from it by the end. The lighthearted narrative works because of the character arcs given to the leads. The writers have been able to add the elements of the word ‘honey’ without making the end product cheesy, and that is quite a feat. Hamad is constantly tussling between wanting to do the right thing for himself and Noor, who is confused after a while about whether she should try to make Youssef jealous at all. 

One aspect of the film that shatters what manhood should be defined as is challenged through a few scenes, and it does leave an impact. Hamad tries hard to fight for Noor, but since she is a fitness instructor she could save herself and her husband. As a husband, Hamad is portrayed as a sensitive man who is not keen on partying or watching sports. Meanwhile, Noor comes across as someone confident about herself and the choices she makes, and she refuses to fall for men who never respected her. The movie does make fun of husband-wife dynamics, which is a common stereotype in broader Asian society. Here, Hamad and Noor are portrayed as individuals who come together as two different personalities who eventually come to accept one another. 


Even though stereotypical aunts try to create tension, this overstretched subplot could be ignored as the writers strictly focused on the dilemmas of the newly married couple. The ending of the film turned out to be stretched and very similar to climaxes the viewers have watched in Hollywood and Hindi movies; it is somehow convincing because there is a relatability factor that never goes away from the narrative. The comedy is brilliantly infused into the narrative, and at no point does it seem like forced humor. The humor in the writing needs to be applauded; the writer did not spoon-feed the audience. The only other concern would be the constant conflicts between the couple are also something tried and tested in loads of famous romantic comedies, which many may have seen over the years. 

The direction, though, in the first half seems odd, as does the cinematography. It is in the second half that the director Elie Semaan’s work shines through as he tries to add some sitcom-style filmmaking that generates good laughs. The cinematography only got better in the second half, where the director also seems to be in control of the material he is basing the film on. The execution of the climax leading up to the ending sticks out like a sore thumb. The reconciliation scene could come across as redundant, but its execution is done with a lot of conviction. The editing of the film is also bumpy throughout, as the transition from scene to scene is not seamless. 


The highlight of the film is the performances of the leads. Right from the start, Hamad is portrayed as a helpless man who is making sure his career plans are not thwarted by his selfish father. Mahmoud Boushahri as Hamad Saleh is excellent throughout the film. As a sensitive man who is different from the usual portrayal of a man in his thirties, Mahmoud Boushahri can bring a lot of realism through his performance. Not all actors are good at physical comedy, but Mahmoud Boushahri aces it like a pro in this film. The best part about his performance could be the fact that he is a good-looking man who believes the opposite throughout the film. 

Nour Al Ghandour is a brilliant addition to the film. She brings a lot of goofiness and an over-the-top presentation of a wife with an agenda of her own. Her role as Noor is a new start for a modern tradition of well written strong female leads in Arabic cinema who are strong and independent and refuse to be let down by men. Nour Al Ghandour can put herself in the position of a woman who is stern but also funny at times. Honeymoonish is a predictable romantic comedy, but somehow it manages to make you smile.


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Smriti Kannan
Smriti Kannan
Smriti Kannan is a cinema enthusiast, and a part time film blogger. An ex public relations executive, films has been a major part of her life since the day she watched The Godfather – Part 1. If you ask her, cinema is reality. Cinema is an escape route. Cinema is time traveling. Cinema is entertainment. Smriti enjoys reading about cinema, she loves to know about cinema and finding out trivia of films and television shows, and from time to time indulges in fan theories.

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