Urban Cinefile
"It made me sick.."  -Sam Neill on his act with the axe in The Piano
 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Wednesday, October 18, 2017 

Search SEARCH FOR A VIDEO_FILE
Our Review Policy OUR REVIEW POLICY
Printable page PRINTABLE PAGE

Help/Contact

LOVE HONOUR AND OBEY

SYNOPSIS:
Jonny (Jonny Lee Miller) and Jude (Jude Law) grew up together in inner London, where Jude showed Jonny how to pull the wings off flies. Now they're grown up, Jonny lives a dull life as a humble postman, while Jude has become a successful criminal thanks to his gang leader uncle, Ray (Ray Winstone). Jonny begs Jude to introduce him to Ray so he can share in the glamorous criminal life. But once he becomes an insider, Jonny is disappointed at the lack of violence and excitement - so he starts manipulating events in the hope of inciting a gang war.

"Gangsters who love karaoke? Quite plausible really. Gangsters create pain and suffering, ensuring successful rackets. Karaoke singers create rackets, ensuring pain and suffering. Except here it’s more like anaesthetic. Narrated by Jonny Lee Miller’s nouveaux ruffian in episodic flashback, the action is continually punctuated by the karaoke capers of the gang members. The actors have carefully pre-recorded their warbling, which reduces the torment, but the extended, pointless lip-syncing is soporific to the extreme. Perhaps these Valium substituting vignettes are intended to deaden the impact of the excessive violence. They certainly lessen the entertainment value. Which is a pity, because fits and starts of quirky originality suggest a greater potential than that realised by the film as a whole. In fact, it plays more like a series of black comedy skits than a coherent piece of cinema. While it resides squarely in the Tarantinoesque genre that juxtaposes the sublimely silly with the ridiculously brutal, a very British flavour has been added to the crims’ code of distorted ethics, team loyalty and specialised diplomacy involving precise protocol and a cockney accented argot. We’ve seen it all before but never quite like this. Disappointingly, the oddities and episodic action never completely jell. Jude Law struts assuredly as the cold-blooded, cool-headed nephew of Winstone’s gang boss, but Miller fails to convince us of the plausibility of Jonny’s metamorphosis – in less time than it takes your average amateur vocalist to stray off key – from naive wannabe to raving, carnage cultivating fruitcake. Then again, there’s no telling what overexposure to karaoke can do to a young, impressionable mind."
Brad Green

"Like many recent arthouse hits, Love Honour And Obey is a calculated atrocity, an attempt to outrage and titillate its audience by doing something as ugly and witless as possible. It isn't shot on digital video, but it might as well be, considering the deliberately artless style: the camera simply follows the actors from a distance as they improvise bad dialogue and flail around. You can't really call it a gangster film - just an excuse for a few semi-famous British actors to amuse each other by pretending to be gangsters. Overlaid on this cliquey horseplay are some familiar jokes generated by an incongruous mixture of violence and whimsy: in between gun battles, these middle-aged spivs spend their time singing in karaoke bars or worrying about their fading sex lives. In theory, it all adds up to a lighthearted, laddish romp. In practice, the film's impact comes mainly through its sheer nastiness, which tends to wipe out any distinction between 'black comedy' and flat-out sadism. A lengthy torture scene where a couple of henchmen are drugged and sexually assaulted is literally nauseating, all the more so for being presented as good clean fun. The punchline is that several of the actors are best known for their work in heavy drama, where similarly 'confronting' material is played straight. It's hard to watch Ray Winstone as a meaty, malevolent gang boss ('He's a big teddy bear,' someone claims unconvincingly) and not think of his recent role as an abusive father in Tim Roth's highly praised The War Zone. Yet are the two performances really so different? Or is the gloating smirk that defines Love, Honour And Obey hidden somewhere beneath the sleek, arty surface of Roth's film as well?"
Jake Wilson

"There would appear to be two streams of British filmmaking. Simply put: one of exceptional quality, high ideals matched by the highest production and performance standards; and the other not. Love, Honour and Obey falls into the second category. On first impression it is an English attempt at Pulp Fiction, Tarantino's quintessentially American landmark film. The genre doesn't successfully cross the Atlantic. Pulp Fiction relied on a combination of the mundane with the horrific. Even though it played with traditional structure, its driving force was a cohesion of form and content. Love, Honour and Obey misses entirely on this. The attempted humour does not come from the world writer/ directors Dominic Anciano and Ray Burdis have created. Rather than cohesive, the film is entirely too bitty. The major plot involves Ray (Ray Winstone) and his attempt to successfully control his gang of thugs, especially after the introduction of new boy Jonny (Jonny Lee Miller). Apparently largely improvised, the actors in this main area of the plot do the best work, though there is a tendency to grandstand a little. The subplot of the two thugs played by the writer/directors has impotent Ray (Burdis) getting advice from his sexually intrepid partner Dom (Anciano). There are some funny situations here, particularly when Ray takes his wife along to a sex therapist and is horrified that the term 'masturbation' should be used in front of her. But the viagra conclusion to this plot line is way too much and simply doesn't fit. Nor do the karaoke scenes, though they are fun in themselves. Ultimately the film seems to be the result of a bunch of actors getting together with a 'hey why don't we try this?' approach. It fails."
Lee Gough

Email this article

CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 2
Mixed: 1

TRAILER

LOVE HONOUR AND OBEY
(UK)

CAST: Sadie Frost, Jonny Lee Miller, Jude Law, Ray Winstone, Kathy Burke, Sean Pertwee, Denise Van Outen, Rhys Ifans

DIRECTOR: Dominic Anciano, Ray Burdis

PRODUCER: Dominic Anciano, Ray Burdis

SCRIPT: Dominic Anciano, Ray Burdis

CINEMATOGRAPHER:

EDITOR: Rachel Meyrick

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Nick Burnell

RUNNING TIME: 103 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: UIP

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: October 5, 2000







© Urban Cinefile 1997 - 2017