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Richard E. Grant,
Four Lions tells the story of a group of British jihadists who push their abstract dreams of glory to the breaking point. As the wheels fly off, and their competing ideologies clash, what emerges is an emotionally engaging (and entirely plausible) farce. In a storm of razor-sharp verbal jousting and large-scale set pieces, Four Lions is a comic tour de force; it shows that-while terrorism is about ideology-it can also be about idiots. Written by
Sundance Film Festival
Home grown Asian suicide bombers are not an obvious choice for Comedy. But Director Chris Morris makes a surprisingly good job of it in a work which is skilfully written and performed. The best humour has a ring of truth about it. And so it is true here. The plot moves from satire, to slapstick to straight forwards storytelling, and back, at quite a pace leaving the audience to make its own mind up about whether certain bits are intended to be funny, or just turn out that way. That ambiguity is probably the film's strongest suit.
A strong cast of Jihadists struggle to get a team together, struggle to get to a Training Camp in Pakistan from which they are sent home in disgrace, indeed they struggle to complete any task successfully. Yet they are not portrayed as buffoons. Never before has Muslim culture been lampooned like this, yet Morris shows it in such a way that they are Everyman jokes and should not cause offence to anyone.
The fact that this is low budget works to its advantage. The script and acting win and the documentary style filming gives it an authenticity which is vital for the humour to prosper. Riz Ahmed stars as Chief Jihadist Omar, but Nigel Lindsay steals the show as a Caucasian Muslim convert. Preeya Kalidas has a frustrating, underwritten role as Omar's wife. A nurse, and a mother we never really get her insight into the prospect of her husband, and father of her son, embracing martyrdom, even though she pokes fun at an over zealous cleric when he visits their home.
At 100 minutes, the film ends when it needs to, in dramatic and compelling style and does not out stay its welcome. For some this will not be funny enough, for others it will simply be in poor taste. But we should be proud that this sort of comedy simply could not be made in America, and is the first cinematic attempt to deal with a relatively new, and disturbing, social phenomena.
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