Cast: Aisha Hart, Paddy Considine, Harvey Virdi, Faraz Ayub, Shubham Saraf, Nikesh Patel
HONOUR is one of those rare things – a meaningful thriller: whilst all the classic elements of the genre are aptly fulfilled, director/writer Khan never looses the moral thread of the story. Mona, a young Pakistani Muslim woman, is working as an estate agent in London. She falls in love with Tanvir, a young Punjabi man, who is working for a rival company. Mona was promised in marriage to a man in Pakistan at the age of three, and her family is desperate that she should stay a virgin. Encouraged by their two-faced mother, Kasim strangles Mona, just as Adel (who betrays the trust of his sister) in arriving home. But she miraculously survives and goes into hiding. Her family then hires a British contract killer (Considine), himself a racist, to track her down and kill her. But instead of killing her, he turns against her family. Kasim uses his powers a policeman to track them down, and corner them on a rooftop for a shoot out.
Khan’s male characters are all accurately portrayed and believable: Kasim is a British Muslim hypocrite, who uses his role as a policeman in a western country to hunt down his sister in the name of a religion, who’s rules he does not follow himself. His younger brother Adel is not much better, he too enjoys the benefits of western youth culture, but is quick to scarify his sister, when his brother puts pressure on him. The contract killer (without a name), has been abandoned by his mother, his tattoos shows racial hatred, but he is taken in by Mona’s fragility and when he learns that she is also pregnant, his own personal issues surrounding abandonment kick in, and he encourages her to keep the baby. Of the two women, the mother is most straightforward in her hatred of her own gender, her belief in male superiority and her pride that singles out one son (her eldest) but denigrates her others children; whereas Mona is a classical victim turned survivor model. Whilst being unrelenting on the religious fanatics that exist in British society, Khan also shows racial prejudice by the certain factions of the white population. But overall his attack on the perpetrators of honour killings is the driving force behind his film.
The film’s narrative is not linear, the flashbacks increase the suspense, and none of the characters is allowed to maintain a stable relationship with each other: alliances are shifting permanently, and Khan makes it clear that everyone has a choice in the end, whatever their past, beliefs or prejudice may be. The acting is convincing, and the classical film score helps to propel the narrative forward. Unusually, it is the cinematography which lets the piece down, shot mainly in the Glasgow rain: Whilst an action film obviously requires a certain tempo, the camera overdoes the hectic panning; there are few moments of calm where we might learn more about the protagonists. In falling victim to its own pace, the images of this film are often too fleeting to be impressive. But overall, HONOUR is a unique, ambitious achievement. AS
HONOUR IS ON GENERAL RELEASE FROM 11 APRIL 2014
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