Although lacking in originality, Rayna Campbell's latest venture proves to be stylistically stunning and refuses to leave you days after viewing.
Urban dramas are pretty easy to come by in the screens of today’s cinema. In fact Britain’s reputation for the gritty realism of the streets of our cities seems to have given birth to this new wave of interest in drugs, rape and teenage pregnancy, all coinciding to create a wave of disastrous outcomes and, often, a deadly fate. Rayna Campbell’s Lapse of Honour offers little more in the way of content, her modernised Romeo and Juliet playing the same old game in the same old way, yet there’s something victorious about Lapse of Honour which stays with you long after leaving the film behind.
Eve (Lady Leshurr), a teenager with big dreams to escape her dead-end life in Manchester, finds herself pregnant with boyfriend Tom (Tom Collins). As money, parental relationships and education are already a problem, everything very quickly begins its journey south. Lapse of Honour, though, isn’t a film about teenage pregnancy or rape and even its portrayal of drugs is somewhat fleeting. It’s the very consequences of these things which form the basis of the film, putting in action the very wheels which churn out their fates.
It’s a story of youth in an age of horror and a place of hopelessness, the plot solely driven by the characters and their effects on others. At the same time as remaining utterly external to these characters, peeping in almost sinfully, voyeuristically, we are dragged at times right into their surroundings. We begin to see how they see, and the bleakness of the world is subsequently revealed. Yet at the same time, whilst within their world, we share their hopes and see just how easy it would be to escape, if only it actually were easier. If only they had the money, the knowledge, the support; it would be so easy.
And that’s what creates the film’s momentum. Lapse of Honour’s drama comes from the comparison we inevitably make between our lives and their’s; its tension rising not from any thundering revelations or heart-racing showdowns, but the desperate efforts the characters make and keep making in order to make some sort of escape to a world we live in easily.
Director Rayna Campbell’s real strength here comes from her unwillingness to hold back, to protect the audience. Perhaps relying a little too much on violence to make an impact, pandering to a willing audience brought up on bloody action and deathly unfoldings, the film still crosses various boundaries of right and wrong, truth and lies, blurring them slightly in the process. You come out from the film at the end having to scrape at the past to make sense of your own ethics again, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Instead, perhaps it is a mark of reality, or what should be reality.
Lapse of Honour is a story, predominantly, about the effects we all have on others and others inevitably on us, and how intrinsic we are in both each other’s risings – and falls. How easy it is to fall into the world of drugs and gangs and blackmail, appears both saddening and inevitable. Far from being a hopeful film, it remains on the baseline of belief, of faith. A glimmer of hope rears every now and again, and by the end you linger both shocked and longing for the intention of optimism.
And still although nothing original, at least see it for the stunning visuals and soundtrack. In terms of content though ‘Just say no, kids’ would be a fitting alternative title.
Lapse of Honour (2015), directed by Rayna Campbell, is distributed in the UK by J Rocka Entertainment and is available to stream on Vimeo on demand here. Certificate TBC.