Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Four Lions gets the twitter thumbs up

It was, probably, the most controversial film of last year but Chris Morris' black comedy, Four Lions, has got the Twitter seal of approval for its two BAFTA nominations.

I don't think it has a change of winning, just down to what films its up against. I will stick my neck out and say it will lose to 127 Hours in the "Outstanding British Feature" category and to Monsters in the "Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer" category. I may be proved wrong come February 13. Here's hoping.

Chris Morris' "Four Lions" is a funny, thrilling comedy that illuminates modern jihadism through the prism of farce. It understands jihadists as human beings. And it understands human beings as innately ridiculous. What "This Is Spinal Tap" did for heavy metal and "Dr Strangelove" the Cold War, "Four Lions" does for the modern face of terrorism.

In a British city, four men have a secret plan. Omar (Riz Ahmed) is disillusioned about the treatment of muslims around the world and is determined to become a soldier. This is the most exciting idea Waj (Kayvan Novak) has ever heard. Better still it’s a no brainer because Omar does his thinking for him. Opposed to Omar and everyone else on earth is the white islamic convert Barry (Nigel Lindsay). He’d realize he joined the cell to channel his nihilism - If he had half the self knowledge of a duck. Faisal (Adeel Akhtar) is the odd man out. He can make a bomb – but he can’t blow himself up just now coz his sick dad has "started eating newspaper". Instead he’s training crows to fly bombs through windows. This is what Omar has to deal with. They must strike a decisive blow on their own turf but can any of them strike a match without punching himself in the face?

"Four Lions" plunges us beyond seeing these young men as unfathomably alien. It undermines the folly of just wishing them away or, even worse, alienating the entire culture from which they emerge. The film is neither pro nor anti religious. The jokes fly out of the characters’ conflicts, excesses and mistakes. Crackling with wit and tension, "Four Lions" is the essential response to our failure to engage with reality and a high toast to the idea that laughter is better than killing.

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