I’ve been told that, for a black guy, I rarely get offended. I take this as a barbed compliment, but I guess it’s true and it is especially so when it comes to films – until I saw Four Lions.
Never have I winced so much during a film, or twitched uncomfortably at jokes, or gasped, or looked on in amazement at what I had just seen. Or, laughed for that matter. For all of its controversy, Four Lions is really funny.
The film is about a group of radical English Muslims who have aspirations to commit a terrorist attack. For a post 7/7 film, this is a subject matter that is still too raw for many in the country. Shit, after the Lee Rigby murder , it’s hard enough just to commit to press play on the DVD player – let alone find humour in it. But once you have accepted the premise of the film, you realise that the film is something special indeed.
The story of Omar, Waj and Barry is an important one, more so in 2014. I don’t think this is an anti-Islam film at all, I feel like Chris Morris and co show great respect to the religion. The film deals with the important issue of radicalisation. It shines a harsh and hilarious spotlight at those who are being radicalised and those who are doing the radicalising.
The cast are excellent in this film, every single one of them – BUT I have a lot of love for Nigel Lindsay. His portrayal of Barry, the white convert, is absolutely hilarious but there is always truth and menace behind it. He steals every scene he’s in.
There are moments in this film that I will not forget in a hurry – whether that is the eating of the sim-card scene, the driving to the airport scene, the Pakistan sequence or the mascot finale. I couldn’t help but laugh but every time I did, I questioned why I was doing so. That is the mark of great satire.
The film leaves me with an overriding question, what mechanisms are there in place to stop radicalisation? I fear that we now live in a society that is fearful of Islam because of the extreme acts of a minority of Muslims. As a member of a minority group, I understand how frustrating this generalisation is – and frankly I believe the onus is on that group to show their true colours to the wider public.
You know what? I should have known better – Four Lions is directed and co-written by Steve Morris of Brass Eye fame. Controversy is his middle name. But Four Lions is also a very special, and I would add brilliant, British film that everyone should at least view once.