Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Four Lions (DVD Review)

Image: Riz Ahmed as Omar in Four Lions. Courtesy of eOne Films.

Dir: Chris Morris - feature film directorial debut
Cast: Riz Ahmed, Nigel Lindsay, Kayvan Novak, Adeel Akhtar, Arsher Ali
UK, 2011

Reason to see: I heard the director Chris Morris interviewed on Kermode podcast & was so impressed by him I knew I wanted to check out this film.

The easiest way to describe Four Lions is to say that it's a comedy about a group of wannabe terrorists. That sentences feels so wrong on so many levels, I feel strange even typing it. What is even stranger is not only is it the truth of the film, but also the unique strength of the film that defies precedent and even exceeds the high expectations I had for it.

We are introduced to a set of jihadists, the wannabe terrorists who for the most part have no idea what they are doing, with the exception of the sometimes leader Omar (Riz Ahmed). Omar isn't actually all that great at leading, but he's an ultimate professional when seen alongside the completely bizarre logic of Barry (Nigel Lindsay), who continues to challenge his ideas and leadership of the group. Rounding out the group is the good intentioned Fessel (Adeel Akhtar) and the not-that-bright although very charismatic Waj (Kayvan Novak) who is a huge highlight of the film bringing a whole new level of humour through odd though processes. Together this group of guys are so at odds with each other that I'd be surprized if they could agree on anything, or even show up on time to an event, so the idea of pulling off any kind of organized attack seems like it would be a complete miracle.

Between the trying to make plans and agree on things in general, we also get to see slivers and slices of everyday life for the guys, which might even be more funny that the rest of the ridiculousness, but in all honestly - it's all funny. Everything in the film made me cracking up, even though it feel so wrong to be laughing this political. Not that I necessarily thing the film is trying to say anything, it doesn't read as a message movie it's just freaking funny. It's the first film in a long time that after seeing it I will spontaneously burst into laughter just thinking about moments in the film, and I want to go around quoting it but out of context it would make no sense to anyone who hasn't seen it. But I still want to do it! I do, I really do. And I know I have to watch it again because I laughed so hard that I missed pieces after some of the jokes.

Huge kudos to the film for being so gutsy and taking on such serious subject matter but spinning it until it comes out in lunacy, and also huge kudos to the cast as they are what really takes it above and beyond - particularly Riz Ahmed and Kayvan Novak who had me in stitches. If you love dark comedy, or any comedy, you have to see Four Lions. Believe me, you won't regret it.

DVD Extras:

  • Branford Interview (4 minutes) interviews with cast & crew on the film on the inspiration behind the film, what it was like making the film, some behind the scenes footage and most of the interviews are very tongue-in-cheek and like the film, very funny.
  • Behind the Scenes (5 sections, 12 minutes) behind the scenes footage including discussion, rehearsal, different takes and chats with some of the actors in 5 sections of the film.
  • Background Materials (2 sections, 23 minutes total) including Lost Boys (8 minutes) short documentary talking to young guys on racism faced, challenges, their dreams and goals. A lot of the interviews are taken while driving around at night and there is a bit of disconnect and irony to hear the stories while also seeing some of the guys cattle calling women on the street; Interview with Mo ali (15 minutes) chat with Mohammad Ali Ahmad who was arrested and held for months on how he was treated, why they took him in, conditions he was faced with such as not being allowed to live by himself, mobile phone, use the internet and the challenge and effects the holding has and could have on him.
  • Deleted Scenes (7 scenes, 19 minutes) combination of deleted and extended scenes Totally worth watching because just like the film it's all really funny and boundary pushing
  • Storyboards
Four Lions is available on DVD as of March 8, 2011. Check it out over at Amazon.ca & Amazon.com

Shannon's Overall View:
I loved it
I'll easily watch it again
I highly recommend it, and for dark comedy fans it's an absolute essential must see film

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© Shannon Ridler, 2011

Image: Four Lions. Courtesy of eOne Films.

Image: Kayvan Novak (top) and Nigel Lindsay in Four Lions. Courtesy of eOne Films.


Sam Turner said...

This is probably my film of 2010. I loved it and I'm glad you did too. I think it's a whole new brand of comedy - dark, daring and with something to say. It's also incredibly funny. Now excuse me for a second, I'm off to the rubber dinghy rapids!

Tom Clift said...

Glad to hear you liked it! This was one of my favourite films from last year, and definitely the funniest. A great blend of slapstick and savagely clever political satire. I also really liked the dynamic between Omar and his wife. I read/heard a lot of people calling her support of his mission strange or underdeveloped, but I thought it was one of the most interesting parts of the film. The same goes for his relationship with his son

michael said...

Hey glad to hear people from all around the world loving this film. Although the characters are ludicrous they are so true. I live in Bradford in the heart of West Yorkshire where Chris Morris did the majority of his research; I went to school and worked with people just like Waj. Not quite as eccentric, but very nearly.
I haven't met a character like Barry but the rest of them were very real, which added to the comedy and the connection.
I attended the UK Premiere at last year's Bradford International Film Festival and they were all there for a Q&A, where Riz was particularly funny. Novak hadn't really come out of his shell then, but when I saw the film again with a director and cast q&a in Bradford as a fundraiser for the pakistan flood appeal he was on top form.

If you haven't seen them, you should check out Morris and Armando Ianuchi's (Thick of it and In the Loop) cocreation Brass Eye. A controversial mockumentary series.

also if you like Novak's comedy, his Fonejacker series is really funny. Facejacker is ok too, though not quite as good.

If you like Riz, then Shifty is a pretty solid, very low budget film starring him.

twitter: @destroyapathy

simoncolumb said...

yeah, this is a great film! My brother got it on DVd for me for christmas (an earlier release in the UK methinks!) and I can't wait to watch it! It was up there in my top 10 films of 2010 too!

Glad you liked ti too - now we need to spread the word and make sure all of Canada and America watch it!


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