Cut from a similar existential cloth as his avenging angel from Shane Meadows’s Dead Man’s Shoes, Paddy Considine’s nameless thug from Honour is a striking representation of an angry Old Guardsman confronting his inevitable moral extinction. The customarily nuanced actor is all ultra-concentrated rage as a former supporter of the far-right National Front, bringing a benumbed ambiguity to his nameless character that works against writer-director Shan Khan’s reduction of honor killings to grist for the cheapest of pulpy thrills. After an initially inexplicable prologue aboard a commuter train, inside which two Muslim women are harassed by two racist louts, the film backtracks to the seeming murder of young Mona (Aiysha Hart) by her older brother, Kasim (Faraz Ayub), and mother (Harvey Virdi). Through a series of further leaps backward and forward in time, the ultra-traditional Muslim family’s shame is revealed to be rooted in Mona’s relationship to her Punjabi boyfriend, which leads them to hiring Considine’s shadowy figure to do the work they must ultimately commit after he suffers a crisis of consciousness straight out of Snow White. Excepting a scene wherein Kasim and his mother give voice to all the hypocritical clichés of patriarchal oppression, there’s only a sense of the film’s chronological hopscotching, like the relentless sea of kettle drums on the soundtrack that tritely signify all that’s alien and frightening to Westerners about the Middle East, as a distraction from a more serious grappling with the issue of honor killing and all the social structures that support its cruel practice. And the unintentionally ironic effect of this flagrant attempt at mainstream appeal is that Mona is often lost in her own story of oppression, completely subservient to all of the dick-swinging shows of authority put on by the story’s men. Even the cutesy finale that ties back to the moment on the commuter train treats her and all that she is capable of, as a woman and a fighter, as a mere afterthought.
- 108 Media
- 104 min
- Shan Khan
- Shan Khan
- Aiysha Hart, Paddy Considine, Faraz Ayub, Shubham Saraf, Harvey Virdi, Nikesh Patel
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