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"They want to provoke us, you see... shock us out of our bourgeoisie complacency"
Honest has had something of a rough press in England; it's content and cast earning it a pre-release reputation as "The All Saints Movie". (Even though one of the group - Shaznay Lewis - doesn't appear) More precisely, it has another reputation - that of "The All Saints Exposing Their Boobs Movie". If that's the reason you would want to see this film (and it was a small part of the reason I went. Well, okay, a fairly large part. A large part. Okay, alright, it was the only reason I went to see it. Happy now?) then you'll be disappointed. The scenes in question, heavily cut at the girls' bequest, last for no longer than three minutes, or less than 3% of the film's runtime.
What is slotted into the place of a perceived celebrity nudefest is a look at sixties counterculture. We even get a Hendrix impersonation, an LSD trip and Bootsie Collins in the cast. Music is of the era, with some covers of Motown originals by the three girls evident in the background. However, it's all so self-consciously done (Nicole, as Gerry, can't even sit down without picking up an authentic copy of a 1960s Radio Times) that it comes across more as a pastiche or someone's anecdote of what the era was like, rather than the supposedly-genuine recreation of Dave Stewart's youth. Similarly, the satirical bent the movie favours in this regard is a little too broad to be fully effective; though there is a nice little in-joke with "Clement La Frenais" appearing on a roadsign, and a scene where an acid-soaked hippie debates the nature of existence to a cow.
The other half of the film is a look at East End villainy; the three girls playing a small-time armed robbery unit who clash with a bigger outfit. Nicole is the definite lead with by far the largest role. She does reasonably well, carrying a surprisingly effective London accent. Mel Blatt, the one who doesn't have to strip, has the smallest role, possibly only 10 or 15 minutes in all. This is a shame as she gives a nice performance, and her lack of achievement with the opposite sex does cause some of the film's main amusement. By far the weakest of the group is Natalie Appleton as Mandy, a tough psychotic. Except she's neither tough nor particularly psychotic and her ordering a crowded room at gunpoint is especially unconvincing. As is her accent, come to that. Thankfully, she too gets a minor role, possibly twenty minutes or so.
There's also a love interest with Peter Facinelli as Daniel Wheaton, the romance perhaps not always convincing due to strained relations off screen. In a scene which gives the role-reversal of A Clockwork Orange's "man kills woman with phallic object"; Nicole tries to squish Daniel with a statue of a female nude. He overcomes her, and, eschewing a stunt double, Nicole found herself covered in bruises filming the rest of the fight sequence. What followed has been reported differently, some magazines alleging that during their sex scene together Nicole yelled "cut!". Her account in the reliable Empire magazine states that the fight had caused them to have a massive argument. So much so that the atmosphere was hostile for their lovemaking scene and that, while Nicole didn't stop the filming, she was extremely pleased when a low-flying aircraft disturbed the shoot and curtailed it prematurely.
In the same publication the singer was attributed with the following unpromising quote: "Everyone has dodgy first films. But everyone has to start somewhere, and not every actor's first film was great". When your leading actress starts an interview with a sentence like that, you pretty much know what you're getting for your money. But ultimately, three things will go through your mind as you leave the cinema: 1. The film is no classic, but certainly not as bad as you've been led to believe; 2. The 60s were not as much fun as people make out; and 3. Bob Dylan was a truly awful singer.
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