Saturday, 8 May 2010
REVIEW: Four Lions
Clearly not content with already being Daily mail enemy number one after his infamous (and hilarious) Brass Eye pedophile mockumentary. Now Chris Morris, entirely true to character, makes his movie directorial debut with a nice, breezy comedy about jihadist suicide bombers. Obviously. But Morris doesn't just seek out controversy for it's sake. There's a method in his assassination-baiting, and he always has something to say, and does so intricately, intelligently and most importantly, hilariously.
I'll say I was more then a little apprehensive about this movie's potential for xenophobia, in that it was going to be a film that ostensibly mocked Islam written by a bunch of western white guys. But thankfully, it's not just an ignorant free for all against Islam. It's knowledgeable enough about the culture to mock it with credulity and value. But with the inevitable political correctness panic all met with and addressed, I'll go on to say that Four Lions is one of the best British films I've seen in the last couple of years, probably since Fish Tank. ( Moon may be made with British Money etc, but since every character big and small is American, I wouldn't really say that it counts) Perhaps because it's main target is the culture and the delusions of the suicide bomber, and the sheer stupidity and hypocrisy of the notion of martyrdom. These are suckers, and in all but one case - Nigel Lindsay's odious and ego-maniacal caucasian convert Barry, who is basically The Big Lebowski's Walter Sobchak if he were a Jihadi - well meaning and good human beings, most notably Omar (played terrifically by Riz Ahmed) who when not planning his own glorious martyrdom is being a loving husband and father and otherwise admirable human being. As funny as the film is, its the humanity of these characters that lends it the weight it needed to become something more then an off-color joke.
The film's climax amplifies all of this, in an ending so perfect and on point, in which they come to realize how ultimately pointless and ridiculous suicide their moment of supposed glory actually is. This is most notable in the character of Waj, who spends the most of the film being hilarious in a kind of peer-pressure cheerful delirium, but Kayvan Novak (E4's Fonejacker) lends the character such a tragic innocence in these final scenes that is moving in a way I had no expectation for it to be, and there are few more rewarding cinema experiences then that. Four Lions is very funny, but by blending its humor with its dark message and sense of humanity, it all worked so much better. It leaves you regretting that Morris hasn't been doing this kind of thing for the last ten years really.