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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

Honour movie review: oh woman oh why

Honour red light

A whole lotta violent bigoted men discussing women’s lives as if they merit any say in the matter. If only pop culture were as concerned with women’s stories as it is with men’s.
I’m “biast” (pro): was hoping for a smart exploration of a subject that is desperate for it

I’m “biast” (con): nothing

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

And I was so looking forward to this. So-called “honor” killings — where values of “honor” are, appallingly, all about nothing more than a woman’s virginity — are a horrific thing that impact women worldwide, even in the supposedly enlightened West. And it’s a subject that would warrant more attention in a pop culture that was as concerned with women’s stories as it is with men’s. The strictly cheap-thrills Honour reminds us, alas, that, yeah, pretty much, movies be all about teh menz, even the ones ostensibly about women. Here we have Mona (Aiysha Hart, who seems basically awesome in the few bits we get to see her in), a Londoner of Pakistani origin who is apparently shaming her good family name by dating her British-Punjabi boyfriend (Nikesh Patel); he’s even Muslim, for, er, Christ’s sake, but their fucking is unapproved and outside marriage, hence she is a brazen hussy and must die. I presume, from his name, that writer-director and TV vet Shan Khan is familiar with the cultural milieu, but even he focuses more on the men around Mona than Mona herself: after a truly gripping opening sequence in which we see how Mona is unsafe even among her closest family, whom, we would guess, love her most and dearest, Honour becomes more about the machinations of her brothers (Faraz Ayub and Shubham Saraf) and the conflicted motives of the bounty hunter (Paddy Considine: The Double) her family hires to find her than about what Mona might think or feel about these events. The ironies about the sense of authority that sister-killing men take for granted are only touched upon, and never given the smack they deserve. And too much of the unnecessarily convoluted and eventually preposterous storytelling relies on a change of heart for the bounty hunter that we are offered no basis for understanding. The film ends up being a whole lotta violent bigoted men discussing women’s lives as if they merit any say in the matter.

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Honour (2014)
US/Can release: Jul 11 2014 (VOD same day)
UK/Ire release: Apr 04 2014 (VOD Apr 18 2014)

MPAA: not rated
BBFC: rated 15 (contains strong language, violence and sex references)

viewed on my iPad

official site | IMDb | trailer
more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine | Rotten Tomatoes

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