Aysha Hart, Paddy Considine, Faraz Ayub
WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY
"Honour" Opens in NYC and on VOD on July 11th
With his first feature film, writer/director Shan Khan has crafted a flawed yet memorable suspense/thriller around an issue that it is almost stunning to think still exists in a world that has supposedly become more civilized.
The UN reports that an estimated 5,000 women are victims of honor killings each year. Honour evolves around a woman who has been targeted for such a killing, Mona (Aiysha Hart, Atlantis), who is a young British Muslim who has been targeted for an honor killing by her mother after being discovered making plans to run away with her Punjabi boyfriend. Paddy Considine (The World's End, In America) plays a bounty hunter hired to kill her, and while the film seems to give too much attention to the male characters for a film said to be about the disgrace of honor killing, the fact remains that the film is a suspenseful and moving thriller and a promising debut for Khan.
Your ability to fully appreciate Honour may very well depend upon whether or not you believe that Khan has set out to create an effective suspense/thriller or a pseudo-documentary on the subject of honor killing. While it's easy to get lost in the expectations that more weight would be given to such a harrowing subject matter, it's clear early on that Khan is intent on making an intelligent thriller about a subject that matters. While Khan could have made an extraordinary thriller, it seems a tad unjust to punish the film because it more emphasizes suspense and thrills than it does an actual analysis of its subject matter.
But, I digress.
The film benefits greatly from a cast that is exceptional even when the dialogue itself occasionally becomes a bit predictable. Aiysha Hart, familiar to audiences for her work in BBC/BBC America's Atlantis, does a terrific job and nicely overcomes the occasional convoluted choice that had me scratching my head going "Was that really necessary?" Paddy Considine, whom I'm fairly sure has never given a bad performance, is similarly strong here despite an ill-advised tendency in Khan's script to make Considine's character a bit too palatable. If there's a gift that Considine brings to the table, and there's actually many gifts, it's that he's able to play characters whose motivations are unclear and whose intentions are unknown. It's a joy watching Considine bring a character to life and, for the most part, he masterfully portrays here a character whose unpredictability draws you in even more. Faraz Ayub gives a chilling performance as one of Mona's brothers, while Harvey Virdi goes beyond chilling as her mother.
Honour is a good film that should have been and could have been even better. My sense, quite honestly, from this film alone is that Khan might've created a more effective film working from someone else's script as there are times he simply doesn't weed out threads that needed to be weeded out and there's times when I was thinking to myself "Simplify!"
That said, Honour is a memorable suspense/thriller that gives a solid introduction and a public face to an issue that it's hard to believe still exists in the 21st century yet it does. If Honour at least succeeds in making you think about the issue of honor killing, then it will have succeeded greatly while also maintaining itself as an effective thriller.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic