Thursday, 26 June 2014


HONOUR (2014)

Written & Directed by: Shan Khan
Starring: Aiysha Hart, Paddy Considine, Faraz Ayub, Shubham Saraf, Nikesh Patel & Harvey Virdi

This dark of sometimes brutal British film takes the theme of honour killings and frames a tense thriller around it allowing the viewer a glimpse into the darker side of a certain culture. Devout Muslim and mother of three (Viridi) is ashamed of her only daughter, Mona (Hart), who has not only let some of her faith traditions slide but strikes up a romance with a young Punjabi man and threatens to run away with him. The Mother sees the only way to rectify this “problem” is to honour kill her daughter to restore the good name to her family and her dead husband’s legacy. Roping in a hard-bitten and one time Aryan brother bounty hunter (Considine) to find Mona, the Mother soon realizes that the task of killing her daughter will fall to her and her eldest son when said gun-for-hire’s conscious catches up with him and he sees a way out for both him and Mona.

From the quietly and incredibly intense opening scenes featuring the Mother (the character is only ever referred to as the mother) putting her plan into action to the non-linear approach the filmmakers employ to tell the story from all the main character’s perspectives, Honour is a dark thriller that grips throughout and spins a story that actually keeps you guessing for once (not least due in part to the sucker punch opening scenes!). The non-linear approach, meaning we the viewer jump back and forward in time to see the events from different perspectives, may be off putting to some but works quite well both in heightening the thriller element and into gaining how the clashing of cultures and beliefs affects each of the different protagonists. Sectioning the film into non-linear segments helps us to see how obsessed the Mother has become in the pursuit of the honour killing (and how her beliefs have become warped in order to achieve her goal); how Mona is at odds with the faith she has been brought up with; and how Considine hunter’s one time hatred for those who aren’t like him has now subsided and that he may be the saviour Mona is looking for. It’s an interesting approach, to what is essentially a thriller, but gives the film more meat as themes of wanting to escape a certain life and how faith can become an obsession rather than a calling elevate the film above the simpler girl-attempts-to-flee-her-crazed-family angle. 

Honour is a thriller first and foremost (and most certainly not an action film so don’t go expecting Taken style action shenanigans) and those looking for a straight up drama about the horrendous nature of honour killings may be a little disappointed that the film resorts to more traditional thriller elements come the final third (chases, violent confrontations). However, this is not a detriment to the film as, save for one final unnecessary scene, Shan Khan’s film is a fine thriller that grips and entertains in equal measure and is stunningly shot and excellently acted by the entire main cast. Considine continues to impress balancing both menace and calm well. He actually takes somewhat of a backseat to the rest of the cast (though his part is vital) allowing the younger cast to really shine. Likewise, Harvey Virdi as the callous and quite frightening mother is impressive, spewing forth manipulative speeches with venom.
Honour is, despite being a little plodding on occasion, a taught thriller and while it looks at the dark side of faith it does not criticize the faith as a whole but rather looks at how certain aspects are at odds with the modern world (and human decency) and how those who can become obsessed with upholding their beliefs can ultimately become corrupted by them.

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