Love, Honour & Obey

on August 01, 2008 by Wade Major
   A riotous burst of low-budget British originality, "Love, Honour & Obey" looks to do for crooks what "The Full Monty" did for the unemployed. The brain-child of character actors Dominic Anciano and Ray Burdis, who produced, directed, wrote and acted in the film, "Love, Honour & Obey" focuses on the lives and relationships of karaoke-singing North London gangsters as seen through the eyes of Jonny (Jonny Lee Miller), a working class bloke who asks his childhood pal Jude (Jude Law) to score him a job working for Jude's crime boss uncle Ray (Ray Winstone). One thing leads to another and Jonny soon finds himself happily shoulder-deep in theft, extortion, money laundering and, naturally, karaoke. It's a seductive if dangerous lifestyle that inevitably leads to conflict with a rival gangster named Sean (Sean Pertwee) and his mad-dog henchman Matthew ("Notting Hill"'s Rhys Ifans).

   Satirizing the gangster lifestyle, of course, is nothing new to either English or American movies. The success of television's "The Sopranos" and films like "Analyze This," "The Whole Nine Yards" and "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels" begs the question of whether or not anything new can be possibly be extracted from the concept. Impressively, "Love, Honour & Obey" manages the feat by reinventing the concept, creating its own zany kind of gangster lifestyle instead of simply poking fun at traditional depictions.

   Rumored to have been substantially improvised, the film also features hilariously top-notch performances from Kathy Burke and Sadie Frost (aka Mrs. Jude Law) as typically accommodating mob wives, and from the filmmakers--Anciano and Burdis--as a pair of "average guy" bodyguards. It helps, too, that most of the cast and filmmakers are close friends and/or business associates, making the effort feel more like a personal labor of love among pals than a calculated attempt at second-guessing commercial taste.    Starring Sadie Frost, Ray Winstone, Jonny Lee Miller, Jude Law, Sean Pertwee, Kathy Burke, Denise Van Outen, Rhys Ifans, Dominic Anciano and Ray Burdis. Directed by Dominic Anciano and Ray Burdis. Written by Dominic Anciano and Ray Burdis. Produced by Dominic Anciano and Ray Burdis. A Keystone release. Comedy. Not yet rated. Running time: 98 min.

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