Honeydripper is an electrifying period piece about how music can bring folks together and generally save one's soul -- or at least its final 15 minutes is. The rest of the time, it's just a lot of sassy talk and scenery.
It's a solid history lesson that's less solid as a movie, simply because so much of the weight seems to be crammed into a too-fragile framework. As a film, Honeydripper is fine history put to less fine use.
With its cotton-field locations, diddley-bo props and scripted nods toward blues history and mythology, 'Honeydripper' somehow feels touristy rather than authentic -- as if it were a product of research rather than passion.
Although Honeydripper won a screenplay award at the San Sebastián Film Festival, it's not Sayles' strongest work. Part of the problem is that it keeps building to a rock-'n'-roll payoff that never quite arrives.