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TOP 100 MOVIES in 2000!
LOVE HONOUR AND OBEY, 2000
Cast: Sadie Frost, Jonny Lee Miller, Jude Law, Ray Winstone, Kathy Burke, Sean Pertwee, Denise Van Outen, Rhys Ifans, Dominic Anciano, Ray Burdis, John Beckett, Trevor Laird, William Scully, Perry Benson,Mark Burdis
The film opens with bored postman Jonny (Lee Miller) in clown-face reminiscing about his mate Jude (Law), who introduced him to his crime lord uncle Ray Kreed (Ray Winstone). Though Jonny is hungry for some action, Ray is more interested in karaoke and his impeding nuptials with soap star Sadie (Frost). Bored, Jonny, along with Jude, bungle a credit card scam and then later really screw up by robbing high-grade blow from a South London gang headed by Sean (Sean Pertwee) and his sidekick Matthew (Ifans). Soon a gang war ensues.
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This light-hearted British gangster offering is from a team that knows each other well having worked on TV and film projects with varying degrees of success. They cut their chops with mockumentary comedy ‘Operation Good Guys’ for BBC television, which wrote the blueprint for the world wide success that was Ricky Gervais’ ‘The Office’. Then with the almost exactly the same cast here they made a film, ‘The Final Cut’, which failed to win over critic adulation. However, similarly to Love Honour & Obey, it seemed to be liked by audiences, though Love Honour & Obey over time has gained something of a cult liking. The gangster stereotypes not only make for enjoyable watching but seem to create loveable characters as well.
For the most part though the crux of the film is about how Johnny fashions a war between north and south London Gangs, through various incidents and confrontations, not least with opposite number, Taff. Naturally things come to a head and the laughs give way to revenge and retribution.
While this sounds like nothing out of the ordinary the filmmakers have a particular way of working which certainly come across differently to other British films. In a similar way to legendary comedy filmmaker Christopher Guest the filmmakers here rely heavily on actors’ improvisation, basically outlining the overall plot and events in particular scenes but essentially letting the actors go for it. To help create a natural effect they also don’t have character names, opting to use their own names, which as far as I’m aware is something they’ve employed in all the other work I’ve mentioned of theirs.
Without these practises I think their work would not stand up. That said, there are many genuinely funny moments, and the cast seem to enjoy playing with these easily attainable characters that they make likable, which in turn makes you invest more than you might in the thinly plotted story. By not stretching things beyond, stereotypical characters, genre traits and throwing gratuitous violence, sex references and drug use, all concerned are just able to have fun with the whole thing. It’s that heart and enjoyment in the film that makes it an easy a fun thing to watch.
Review by Stefan Leverton 26/02/10