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Our Favourites for May

Four Lions – May 7th


film should be commended for its even-handedness or knocked for avoiding real confrontation with the issues at play is another dif- ficult question, and one to which I wouldn’t claim to have a definitive answer!

If you see only one British Jihadi comedy this year… Like any great satirist, Brit- ish writer/director Chris Morris (TV’s “The Day To- day” and “Brass Eye”) has never shied away from tackling potentially tricky subject matter for the sake of comedy: AIDS, violent crime, random masturba- tion, and, perhaps most infamously, pedophilia. And while it’s hard to say whether a successful com- edy could be made out of that last subject, Morris has given himself one hell of a burning hoop to clear with his British Jihadi comedy “Four Lions.”

Following a group of oddly lovable would-be terrorists, led by relatively

Comparisons have been made to rock & roll mockumentary “This Is Spinal Tap” and political sat- ire “Dr. Strangelove.” Amazingly, such name-dropping doesn’t seem overly bold. In their own right, all three are hilarious and full of hard, thought-provoking truths (to a less- er degree in “Spinal Tap”), and like “Dr. Strangelove,” “Four Lions” will almost certainly be sparking debate well after its release. And that’s the real truth of Morris’ Jihadi-comedy mission. Fair and balanced or limp- ly non-committal? Doesn’t really matter. The filmmak- ers want to get us using our own heads in the “war against terror” instead of simply consuming and repeating jingoistic foreign policy from our morning freesheet or vote-seeking politician. And you get to have a damn good laugh while you’re at it.

talented newcomer Riz Ahmed’s ambitious Omar, the film charts their path from hapless wannabe death- dealers to, well, hapless wannabe death-dealers making a frantic last-minute entry into the London Marathon. In spite of the general cluelessness that clings to these characters like bad B.O. and the fact that we spend most of the film laughing at this ragtag group, Mor- ris and co-writers Jesse Armstrong and Sam Bain somehow find a way to keep them recognisably human. We don’t despise Omar, because his internal struggles are genuine and, in many respects, familiar,

though his wife’s casual peace with his suicidal plans can come off as uncomfortably forced. The rest of the “Lions” seem either stupid or lost enough to simply want to be a part of something, anything, as long as it gives them a purpose and a way to pass otherwise dull days.

That something just happens to be terrorism.

And this is the point that Morris and co. have set out to make: terrorists are a lot like your five-a-side footie team, and seeing them as some- thing altogether foreign is a fatal

mistake. Like the dynamic in any close-knit group, there are plenty of ego-driven arguments and un- planned mishaps, but the cama- raderie of a shared value system keeps pulling each person back to- gether. Watching this group come together one last time in the film’s climax demonstrates exactly that, while also saying quite a bit about the fear that can overcome rational thought when individuals are sepa- rated from their pack. It’s also in this scene that the film enjoys some of its biggest laughs – the image of a running Sugar Puffs Honey Mon- ster terrorist will be forever burned

Credit would have been due the filmmak- ers for even attempting

i n t o my mind – while

also hitting startling emotional depths, and testing the limits of Morris’ control over the material. He succeeds here, but only just.

How we ought to engage with ter- rorism and its followers isn’t a sub- ject the filmmakers appear as keen to tackle. For all its brass, “Four Lions” dances around making any distinct judgments or offering any real glimmers of hope. Whether the

such a difficult task, but that they’ve largely succeeded without resort- ing to pure derision, a la “Team America: World Police,” is a true testament to their comedic and storytelling instincts. Not everyone will appreciate Morris’ attempt to inject humour into the war of words surrounding religious extremism, but in spite of Four Lions inevitable flaws, the debate would be far poorer for its absence. Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40
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