Pedro and Teresa are a well-off couple who live in an ultramodern house of the Brutalist architectural school. When she inherits a lot of old-fashioned furniture from her family, she says she'll sell it, but instead moves it into their home, to his initial annoyance. Simultaneously, she begins reverting to childhood, starting with sleepwalking activities she doesn't remember later, then escalating into full-time childish games and impulsive, immature behavior. For a while Pedro tries to discourage all this. But then he relents, and the two withdraw from their real-world responsibilities into increasingly bizarre "games" and role-playing.
Essentially a two-character piece that might have worked as well onstage, despite Saura's assured, fairly "cinematic" direction, this is a well-made and well-acted movie that nonetheless feels like a rather forced, unnecessary exercise, more interesting in theory than practice. These people just aren't terribly interesting, as hard-working as the stars are. Oscarsson has just past 40 at this point but still looked boyish (despite his hair being greyed for this role),so he seems a little miscast as an essentially conservative, bourgeoise businessman. He seems to be impersonating a notion of adulthood, even before the "games" begin. Chaplin is on firmer ground for her skill set as the child-woman. But this kind of act is usually a little annoying (there's always something artificial and cloying about a grown-up trying to be "childlike"),and she is an actress more willing than most to really dig into a character's irksome side. (See nearly all her work for Altman.)
So it's more effortful than enjoyable watching these two performers play-act childbirth, being a doggie, etc. The film (on which Chaplin was a co-writer) seems more like a series of acting-class scenes than an organic whole in terms of creating rounded characters, real insight into the institution of marriage, or anything else concrete. The result is highly polished yet curiously empty, an exemplar of the kind of movie that would get a lot of attention (if qualified enthusiasm) at festivals, then sink like a stone in actual release, because there's really nothing here for audiences to hold onto.
There were a lot of navel-gazing dramas about deteriorating marriages around this time-and in the end, that proves to be all "Honeycomb" is really about. But while this movie is one of the more gracefully made among them, it's also among those with the least resonance. It's a sort of theatrical abstraction that invites admiration, but elicits no emotional engagement. Even the "tragic" ending is at once inevitable and purely schematic, arising not out of any psychological necessity but because the movie needs to justify itself with a "big finish."