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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

Love, Honour, and Obey (review)

Get a bunch of actor pals together, give ’em a loose story framework, turn on a camera, and let ‘er rip. Is this any way to make a movie? The writing/directing team of Dominic Anciano and Ray Burdis have done it a few times, and the result here is an absurdist Mob comedy that’s like The Sopranos with an English accent… and karaoke. Jonny (Jonny Lee Miller: Trainspotting‘s “Sick Boy”) wants in on the gangster lifestyle, and his mobbed-up friend Jude (Jude Law: The Talented Mr. Ripley) brings him into the family: his uncle Ray (Ray Winstone) is one of London’s biggest crime lords. But between the diamond heists and the shaking down of local merchants, there’s a lot of goofing off, and Jonny starts to suspect that he, the newbie, is the only one taking this seriously. So he picks fights with Matthew (Rhys Ifans: Notting Hill), righthand man to Ray’s rival, Sean (Sean Pertwee: Soldier), igniting a gang war that will see some hilariously disturbing casual violence among friends as well as enemies. Guns are a rarity, and their ultimate appearance and usage is so over the top that even the shooters can’t help but giggle. Meanwhile, henchmen discuss their erectile problems with the deadpan earnestness of a Viagra commercial (and the little blue pill does indeed make an outrageous cameo). With cheerful allusions to Mob classics like Goodfellas and a semi-improvised style that lends an air of freshness to what could have been a tired retread (even if the improv sometimes means that everyone’s yelling at the same time), this will delight fans of the genre.


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MPAA: rated R for strong violence, sexuality, language and some drug content

viewed at a private screening with an audience of critics

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