Celebrating Great Films

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Four Lions

Four Lions
Unranked at time of writing.

At the time of writing this film has a score of 8.2 on IMDb, but - being a low-budget indie British film - it doesn't have enough votes to get it into the Top 250.

I LOVE that British cinema can tackle such brave material. Hollywood could never be so blasé about domestic terrorism. The director Chris Morris is best known in the UK for a couple of extremely controversial TV comedy series back in the late 90s/early Naughties, in particular an episode of Brass Eye that unflinchingly parodied and exploited our nation's uneasiness about paedophiles. With this comedy about inept suicide bombers, his ability to put his finger on the core of our cultural paranoia and push the boundaries seems to be as strong as ever.

Four Lions is funny, edgy (thankfully not nearly as bad taste as it could have been), and intelligent. Most of the jokes come from how stupid the wannabe terrorists are, and a careful balance is struck to make sure that all cultures are mocked equally. I enjoyed it, but I came out the cinema feeling more could have been done with it. I wanted to know more about why the characters had decided to become terrorists. I wanted something deeper. Perhaps I wanted too much - the fact that Chris Morris has squared up to these topics at all is already much further than any sane man would go, and I am grateful for that.

There have been some truly excellent British films recently which are scored lower on IMDb, but I think deserve more. In particular, I recently watched The Disappearance of Alice Creed - man, Gemma Arterton can act - and the brilliant An Education.

(Trivia from IMDb, if you believe it: "On January 23rd 2010, Four Lions had its world premier at Sundance. On the same day, the UK 'terror threat' level was raised to 'severe' due to non-specific 'chatter'.")