Mona is a young Pakistani woman who is caught somewhere between trying to please her old school mother and eldest brother and trying to fit into the more modern Western culture of Britain today. During the day she has a job as an estate agent and some evenings she spends with her forbidden lover, an Indian estate agent from a rival business who she met whilst doing her day job.
Fed up with living a double life and lying to her family who she knows will never really understand (her younger brother, Adel, is her only confidant in the family and even he informs on her to his older male sibling, Kasim) she and her boyfriend decide to up-sticks and start a new life somewhere fresh, and leave ‘old world’ arranged marriages and family honour behind them.
However, once older brother Kasim is told by Adel that his sister is seeing an Indian and they are about to abscond he pays a visit on the Indian, Tanvir, and tells him to stop seeing his sister or else there will be violence. Sadly the boyfriend isn’t the only person that policeman Kasim intends to teach a lesson to and things rapidly get out of hand when the mother convinces Kasim that the only way for their family to maintain their honour within the Pakistani community, both in the UK and back in Pakistan, is to ‘honour kill’ Mona.
After a botched murder attempt (via strangulation) Mona manages to escape, prompting Mother to hire a white supremacist bounty hunter (Considine) who has apparently been making a tidy profit, since leaving prison, hunting down Asian runaways whom their families want back in order to regain their family’s honour. Our quietly intense bounty hunter reluctantly takes the job, but has second thoughts, which puts him on a rather bloody road to redemption, of sorts.
To someone whose experience of Asian culture has been a rather limited, albeit mainly happy one, a film like Honour is quite an eye-opener; a depressing one at that. I’m still trying to get my head around how any parent could even begin to feel that they can justify killing one of their own children just because they’re worried about what the ‘neighbours’ will think and say about their son or daughter’s public behaviour, which is what this boils down to, in a nutshell. But, that aside, this is a fascinating film that holds the interest throughout and is brilliantly acted by all the central cast.
The film is rather moodily shot, and although it’s fairly sedately paced at times (even though it tells much of its story via flashbacks), it slowly ratchets up the tension right up until the nail-biting conclusion – although the ending wasn’t as cathartic as I’d hoped it would be. Also, I did find the sound quality was a little variable at times, with the sound being rather too low during some pivotal conversations so that I had to whack up the volume on my TV to hear what was being said. A little frustrating…
Nevertheless, this is a brave film by a brave writer and Shan Khan is to be congratulated on bringing this rather disheartening cultural condition to a much wider audience, assisted by BFI and National Lottery funding. According to the film’s final United Nations statistic, 5,000 girls are killed worldwide each year due to matters of family honour, which is a distressing reveal.
The film opens with the quote that: ‘Life is nothing without honour’, but I would amend that and say that: ‘Life is nothing without love’. Honour is admittedly important, but surely, perhaps, more of an optional requirement to that more basic, and more significant human need…
Honour has been released on DVD by 108 Media. There were sadly no extras on the review disc that I watched.