Drama, 16 min
Laine is a young faithful Mormon in her senior year at BYU who falls for a girl named Maggie. When she finds herself under pressure to turn her new girlfriend in to the Honor Code Office in order to graduate, Laine must choose which part of her identity she will honor.
Presenting nail-biting tension, emotional turmoil and an impossible decision Honor could be a difficult watch but a worthy one at that…
A dictionary definition of the word “honor” includes to regard with great respect or to fulfil an obligation and uphold an agreement. However, this film demonstrates that it may not in fact be honorable to force someone to honor a code of conduct that defies their very being. Honor is a story of how a young woman, close to graduating from Brigham Young University (BYU), is caught having a sexual encounter with another female student and thereafter has been sent to the Honor Code Office to reveal in intricate detail what had happened or potentially face expulsion. Presenting nail-biting tension, emotional turmoil and an impossible decision Honor could be a difficult watch but a worthy one at that.
Written, directed by, and starring Lauren Noll, Honor is a short film that explores an all-to-common and tragic conflict between faith or authority and people who identify as LGBTQ+. Laine (Lauren Noll) is a young faithful Mormon in her senior year at BYU, which is founded, supported, and guided by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. When Laine is sent to the Honor Code Office at the university after being reported by her roommate for her unscrupulous conduct with Maggie (Lily Richards), she is confronted by the unforgiving Sister Woodbury (Gina Lohman). The audience then bear witness to Laine grappling with how good she felt in the arms of Maggie against the backdrop of her being told that “it’s okay to be gay…but acting upon those desires is not consistent with the plan of salvation” …and that the school must be “protected” from people like that.
It is a sad situation that Laine finds herself in and there is immense irony in it. Lauren’s vocals in the opening and closing songs blend nicely with the tone of the story. She sings “Oh grace, how great a debtor daily I’m constrained to be, here’s my heart, take it, seal it, seal it for thy courts above”. The weight of debt, guilt, and an inability to follow one’s heart are certainly palpable by the end of the film. Yet where are the “streams of mercy, never ceasing” that she sings of at the beginning of it all? Switching between confessions that “the church is her whole picture; her everything” and that being with Maggie feels like “coming home”, like “love from God”, Laine is clearly torn and leaves the audience equally confused and hopeless. What can she do and what will she do? You may need to watch the film to come to your own conclusions.
With great acting and intense drama, Honor sure serves up a riveting watch. Perhaps more relatable and even potentially triggering for some, the faith vs. sexual identity clash and condemnation is a bitter pill to swallow. Will Laine be alone for the rest of her life, will she live with regret one way or another? Thought-provoking and eye-opening in its own way, this film tells an all too familiar and poignant story of how people can be conditioned to turn their back on love and happiness in exchange for acceptance and love from their parents and their religious community. I wish this short film could’ve been given more time to allow us to see Laine’s story unfold further. Her journey is not over yet, whether to eternal life and/or a life of loneliness remains unknown. Will she be met by “redeeming love” and by whom? Honor captures an honest snapshot in this young woman’s journey and it is a life-defining one that poses some very important questions. It is an impressive filmmaking debut by Lauren Noll and I look forward to seeing more of her work.
In honor of the subject matter raised in this film, I have attached below some links that may help people find LGBTQ+ inclusive religious groups or to reconcile with how their religion stands on the subject of LGBTQ+ matters.
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Ping believes in the power of love and kindness, and that "love is love" no matter what shape or form it comes in. She would like to see positive representation for all walks of life in film and media.