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Beyond Honor (Unrated)

Release Date: March 17th, 2006 (Village East Cinemas and Kew Gardens Cinema) by International Film Circuit.
The Cast: Wadie Andrawis, Ruth Osuna, Ina Barron, Carl Darchuck, Albert Fam, Ryan Izay, Abram Lewis-Rosenblum, Michelle Martin, Laurel Melagrano, Jason David Smith.
Directed by Varun Khanna.

BASIC PREMISE: Sahira (Osuna), an American-Egyptian college student, gets punished for rebelling against her family’s Islamic traditions. ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: Beyond Honor starts out promising as Sahira gradually rebels against her Islamic family’s customs by having an American boyfriend (Smith) and pursuing a medical career. Her father (Andrawis) makes it clear from the start that he wants to preserve the family’s honor, which requires her obedience. Sahira’s punishment for her actions is too gruesome and disturbing to describe here. Director Varun Khanna shows no subtlety during her extensive punishment and makes the viewer feel the pain as well. However, from the point on, Beyond Honor becomes outrageous, silly, and very contrived. Some of the dialogue is unintentionally funny and the transitions between scenes feel awkward and abrupt. A terribly-choreographed and shot fight scene makes it look like the two fighters are about to kiss. On top of that, the acting is mediocre at best. Unfortunately, there’s no suspense when there should be, such as when Sahira attempts to revenge those who punished her later in the second act.

SPIRITUAL VALUE: The clash between liberal Western culture and traditional, Eastern cultures happens every day. In a way, it has something to do with generational gaps, but, fundamentally, the clash occurs simply because of the different ideas and perspectives. What happens to Sahira should not happen to anyone for any reason, yet, the sad fact is that it does happen in real life. The “it” referred to here is FGM or Female Genital Mutilation, which was explored in the much superior film Mooladé . Here, writer/director Varun Khanna treats the topic with very little sensitivity, although Khanna is bold just for portraying it.

INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: Contrived and awkward with stilted dialogue.


IN A NUTSHELL: Despite a bold, provocative subject matter, but too many awkward, unrealistic scenes with mediocre acting makes it too difficult to watch.


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