In a first for Sonic Fiction I review the new Chris Morris film ‘Four Lions’.
As is usual with any Morris project there was a degree of controversy in the build up to the release of this ‘jihadi comedy’ yet unlike his previous projects the amount was fairly limited. Other than a humorous interview with regional news programme Calendar (choice quote: “so you’ve been talking to some people who haven’t seen the film and they’re shocked by it”) there has been little of the usual media pandemonium and Morris appears to sidestep his usual stylistic drive to expose media hysteria and hypocrisy. That is not to say he has not being thorough in his examination of the subject and the film’s execution. Morris may pull some of the punches he previously would have to explore the mora; panic surrounding the subject but as he said in a recent Uncut interview “you get used to the shape and the mechanism of moral panic, and if you’ve done it, as I have, then you really have done it. You can’t get re-interested in something that has exactly the same shape…why on earth would you even think of doing it again?”
As such Morris concentrates on what is funny, which is after all what he is best at though ‘Four Lions’ isn’t Morris-lite and it includes moments that make the viewer feel uncomfortable. The actors succeed in making the characters’ work and lives feel real, particularly that of Omar, (Riz Ahmed) a respectful father and husband and the eponymous Four Lion’s composed leader. His scenes with his family and where we see him struggling with his conscious are what give the film authenticity (though the spot-on Sheffield accents and scene-setting views help create this feeling). Omar also reminded me of Ahmed’s character in Channel 4’s 2007 drama ‘Britz’ in which he played a similarly conflicted British Asian MI5 agent.
‘Four Lions’ is succesful and as described, is funny throughout and I recommended it to anyone who enjoys challenging and thought-provoking comedy.