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Beyond Honor

3.2 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews

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(Mar 17, 2009)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

What happens when the sexually liberated, university educated, daughter of a fundamentalist Moslem couple living in the U.S. strays too far from the family's strict moral code? Cumcision, which is edured by up to 130 million female children and teenagers each year and supposedly, ensures a woman's chastity by excising her genitalia. In Sahira's case, the acient remedy against carnal desires has an unexpected result which throws an entire faily into turmoil. A heart wrenching dramatic portrayal of cultural family conflict.

Review

A graphic indictment of the physical and psychic horrors of female genital mutilation as well as an uncommonly frank depiction of an extremely patriarchal Arab-American family set Varun Khanna's Beyond Honor apart. Though it can't hide occasionally crude dramatics, pic is an undeniably bold and daring tragedy. Mumbai-born, Los Angeles-based Khanna points his lens at an immigrant culture other than his own, one colored by post-9/11 Yank antipathy. Inevitable controversy could cut both ways, either attracting eager fest and distrib interest or scaring away all comers. Latter, though, would be a tragedy in itself, since Honor is something of a landmark film on the indie landscape, as well as a programming coup for the Palm Springs fest, which stresses foreign cinema and tends to cede significant indie titles to Sundance and Slamdance (both of which rejected pic). The heated topicality of the medieval-style female abuse suffered by the smart, med-student daughter of an Arab father, plus the film's highly pressurized storytelling delivered by a committed ensemble make up for some obvious flaws, which seem insignificant in retrospect. The narrative's slow, sometimes uneasy build hardly indicates the fireworks to come, but a brief prologue showing a little girl watching a goat being butchered at a farm lays out portentous hints. That girl grows up to be attractive and intelligent med student Sahira Abdel-Karim (Ruth Osuna), who exists in both her parents' traditional Islamic world -- she wears head covering at school -- and mainstream American life, with nice Anglo b.f. and fellow student Brian (Jason David Smith). At the family's home in a Southern California suburb, father Mohammed (Wadie Andrawis) rules, keeping American-born wife Noor (Laurel Melagrano) on a short leash, chiding son Samir (Ryan Izay) for his failings and demanding to escort Sahira to and from the university hospital during her ER internship. Unsettling factors seep into the film, from a set of off-putting theater exercises that instructor Dr. Woods (Carl Darchuk) requires of the med students, to Samir in his room with a porn mag snooping on Sahira as she dresses. Honor patiently lays the groundwork for an intense mid-section that fully reveals the Abdel-Karim family members to be locked in a psychological prison from which none seems able to escape. Noor must endure her husband's obnoxious sexual rituals as part of her expected wifely duties. Also there is a gnawing suggestion that Samir desires his sister. That combined with the boy's fear of his father turn him into a willing soldier to enforce family honor once Sahira is found to be dating non-Islamic Brian. After a blood-curdling climax involving genital mutilation, Sahira's drama escalates as she struggles to decide how to respond. The promise of a final confrontation is fulfilled, and along the way there are some complications that really set this family pot to full boil. Perhaps not yet a thoroughly accomplished filmmaker, Khanna evinces purpose and determination, and an ability to gradually increase the narrative pressure until it's nearly unbearable. Talking points abound, which shouldn't take away from a focus on the game and only occasionally over-acting cadre of thesps who throw themselves into this emotional cauldron. Osuna creates a heart-wrenching portrait of Greek proportions, while Andrawis and Melagrano provide a study in marital hell. Low-budget factors rarely impinge on this good-looking film, with only David Mann's music going out of control. --ROBERT KOEHLER-Variety

This mélange of softcore porn, overheated melodrama, and harrumphing moralizing transcends taste its lurid insanity goes beyond good and bad, right and wrong. A Muslim family in L.A. is lorded over by a repressive patriarch whose Tourettic non sequiturs are directed mainly at his Westernized med-school daughter, Sahira (Ruth Osuna). She's in puppy love with a doughy white classmate, and a late-night tryst ignites a war not of civilizations but of dramatic pauses and sweaty close-ups. The beady-eyed voyeur brother continually leers at Sahira's shapely un-burka'd flesh and the brow-furrowing theater prof caps his big monologue with a howler Sirk couldn't have massaged into art. Sahira's only ally is her mother, whose chosen means of defense is almost passing out while the father dishes out bon mots like I am judge, jury, and executioner! It's comic-book Islam, sheltered from offense by the ironic arms of camp until the genital mutilation scene stumbles in with horror-film detail. --R. Emmet Sweeney-Village Voice

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Mirelly Taylor, Ryan Izay, Ina Barron, Ajay Vidure
  • Directors: Varun Khanna
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Unrated
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Celebrity Video Distribution
  • DVD Release Date: March 17, 2009
  • Run Time: 101 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001M5M76W
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #158,432 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Amazon Video Verified Purchase
As soon as I saw the goat slaughtering scene in the beginning, I immediately knew it was about bashing Muslims. The filmmakers have made a poor attempt to portray the Muslim family as dis-functional and perverted. As a Muslim woman I honestly didn't know whether to get angry or to laugh after viewing this movie. It is so ridiculously far from the truth. Incest? Female genital mutilation? Really??? These are not only non-Islamic they are inhumane. No where in the Koran is female genital mutilation mentioned. Even the prayers they scripted in were all backwards. If you are going to bash Muslims at least do your homework and put a little effort into it! True Muslim families have love and respect for one another just like any other family. Of course there are some backward people who may still live in stone age, but this is due to their culture and has nothing to do with religion. Viewers please don't be misled and manipulated by this distorted movie. Let's all keep an open mind and live in peace.
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This is the most disturbing and heartbreaking movie I have ever seen. Several times, I thought about turning it off as some parts were just downright difficult to watch and I had to close my eyes or just turn away. This movie is for mature audiences only and I am giving it five stars--as difficult a story as it was to watch, the story needs to be told and the acting was excellent. No I do not love this movie-but for the above reasons only I give it five stars---could never watch it again....hope I can sleep tonight.
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shocking reminder how the KORAN is being abused, subject to misinterpretation of its true meaning; this movie shows the clash of two worlds in the most realistic way
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Muslim bashing by a Muslin hating director. Poorly directed, acted, and written.
Bad, and not even bad in a so bad it's good way. Only for those looking to have prejudices confirmed.
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Beyond Honor is an emotionally moving depiction inside a devout Muslim father's family -- a glimpse into a family dynamic that most Westerners will never see. The acting is almost not a distraction, but considering the horrors going on I thought that many characters would be absolutely hysterical. And this is one of those movies in which sympathetic characters do not act in their best interest. I found myself saying a few times, "Yes - Call. The. Police!!!"
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The most obtuse, moronic and gullible movie I have ever seen in my life.
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Format: DVD
Beyound honor, is painful slice of reality that needed to be exposed as it was in this film. I won't go into a 20 page lecture, but allow me to state this to all males regardless of your ethnicity and so called faith. If the belief system that you're practicing gives you written privelige to denigrate, and abuse the females in your house and community to the 25th demonic powered degree, then don't claim to be a holy man of God, i.e. our Divine Creator! I am thankful of the Melanated, darker than blue culture that I come from whereby, I was taught that striking some ones daughter, or mother or wife was tantimount to spitting in the face of the Creator! Calling her vile names and having perverse Westernized and claim that your getting back at your ethnic oppressor? What? Who? What the hell? Thus, I am glad that I have my copy of this powerful and painful film to show to the youth around me that this is one of the most ungodly relationships that a male should never have with any female! And to the female's this is a reminder that don't ever marry or date a brute because you have gotten caught up into the spirit of desperation to have some one to be with at night when it get cold and lonely! Find out who the hell a male is before you sign your best years of your life away ladies to an abusive prison! Peace and blessings!
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A bit graphic but was this based on a true story?
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