After a safehouse is compromised, five would-be suicide bomber Jihadists in Sheffield must transport their explosives to an allotment. The car predictably breaks down (“Jewish sparkplugs”), and the most outspoken of the group, Barry (Nigel Lindsay), suggests everyone run ‘fast but smooth’, leading the men to run while squatting across a street. One of them, the peculiarly simple Fessal (Adeel Akhtar) gets lost and winds up running in staggered lines in a nearby field with some sheep. Three of the others film him as they laugh and mock him, encouraging him to leap a stone fence. He does, and in a long shot, we see him trip over on landing and, as the flock of sheep run away, turn instantly into a cloud of smoke. It’s a darkly funny moment, but only for a second, as when the shock wears off you’re left with the sad, tragedy of it all. Fessal was an idiot, to be sure, but aside from his desire to blow himself and civilians along with him, he was a not malevolent one. When the group’s leader, Omar (Riz Ahmed), berates the others, they attempt to shift the blame, and when they decide he is technically a martyr (for his death had to mean something, right?), Barry steps up and takes credit. It’s a martyrdom because he killed a sheep, and thus disrupted the ‘system’, he rationalizes. It’s the first moment the film truly jumps from broad, slapstick farce into something deeper and sadder, and that strange, awkward mood courses through the remainder. The mix of slapstick and idiotic discussions on semantics is all done very well throughout the running time of Chris Morris’ Four Lions, and there’s no doubt that it is a very funny movie. The audience I saw it with certainly laughed all the way through, so the poster which features fifteen quotes from critics that all say the one word “Funny” is not technically misleading. However, when the finale ramped up the sad, tragic nature of the story and the characters, it was somewhat uncomfortable to find how many people were still laughing. Read the rest of this entry »