RogerBW's Blog

Four Lions 20 March 2015

2010, dir. Chris Morris, Riz Ahmed, Kayvan Novak; IMDb / allmovie

Four Muslim men from Sheffield aspire to be suicide bombers. Black comedy ensues.

The film was declared to be "controversial", but unless you're an all-police-good, all-Muslims-bad Daily Mail reader there's nothing here to cause offence. These men are people first, jihadis second, and that's the primary point: terrorists really are just people, who've made some strange decisions. There's never any examination of how they became radicalised in the first place, but for several of them one rather suspects it was simply for the lack of anything else to do.

These are real bad times, bruv. Islam is crackin' up. We got women talkin' back. We got people playin'… stringed instruments. It's the End of Days.

Certainly there's plenty of broad humour here: a "terrorist" video with a toy AK-47, swallowing SIM cards to avoid being tracked, planning to blow up a local mosque to radicalise the moderates, and plenty of explosions. But while that's effective, it's not the really good stuff here: that comes in the small quiet moments, such as the leader Omar talking to his young son.

While this most certainly is comedy, it doesn't discard everything else in the quest for humour. The funny incidents come out of the characters and their desires and situations, rather than forming the primary purpose with everything else subordinated to that. Yes, the would-be jihadis are bumbling and sometimes clownish, but this is a farce that shades into tragedy, as it should: a short scene in which Omar says farewell to his wife is genuinely affecting.

You will need to be able to cope with Yorkshire and Pakistani accents to follow what's going on (the Urdu is subtitled). Highly recommended if you choose to see the world in more detail than black-and-white.

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Tags: comedy film

  1. Posted by Owen Smith at 02:45am on 21 March 2015

    On the accent front at least I am ideally qualified to watch this film. I'm from Yorkshire, and spend half my days at work sometimes listening to Indians and Pakistanis attempt to speak English on conference calls. I used to think their English was getting better, but some new starters have convinced me that I've learnt to understand the accents better.

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