As I am still working on my tendency to give an affirmative answer every time I'd rather give a negative one, especially when it comes to seemingly unimportant issues, I agreed to go to a screening of big in the U.S. at the moment We are Four Lions (2010). I found myself in a crowded down-town Parisian cinema on a Saturday afternoon, where people apparently choose the film not by the auteur's name, not even by talents' name --cause I really doubt if they've ever heard of Chris Morris and his fellows, except if they were BBC aficionados --but from it's alluring poster and the fun-factor it radiated.
Needless to say, I am usually not buying any of these, but I had to please my GentlemanX2 company, so, there I am, falling asleep in the opening credits, but instantly catching up on the hilarious (not), better dumb storyline: a smart guy, no, a smart (?) Islamic guy residing in Britain wants to teach capitalistic society a lesson by blowing them up, well, some of them. For that reason he gathers friends with similar beliefs or just easily convinced people around him and throws himself on the mission. I do not mind spoilers (and if you do, discontinue reading on the spot), so I can say it plainly: they all go very far, meaning they actually succeed in becoming kind of martyrs --even if some potential producers at an early stage would rather see them fail-- so, yes, they actually blow themselves up in the end by mistake, the very moment when they started doubting about it all. Except for one who is deliberately choosing to fly high above; their leader, who, if I got it right, he decided to leave with a smile on his face, rather as an homage to his companions, than as a result of his previous beliefs.
Co-writer and director Chris Morris softly describes in a Time Out interview the shit the wanna-be terrorist group enters into as ‘a sad, fucked-up cul-de-sac of rubbish’ and claims that one can joke about everything, even terrorism and bomb attacks.
Personally, I do find the whole thing far-fetched and wouldn't regard the subject matter as the right one to make a parody out of it. Half of the audience in my presence just didn't know how to react, had no clue on what to do with the film; tried to be up for the black humour and utter cynicism, but in the same time their inner political correctness did not allow them to. My laughs every once in a while did not make my shock lighter, when I saw the morons blowing themselves up -- I guess I have to stop feeling guilty for not being able to/not trying to protect idiots from their own stupidity. And mind me, I do find hardcore religious beliefs such as jihad relatively idiotic, but who am I to judge other people's beliefs in the first place.
The screwball part of the film was fun, most of the dialogue and acting was also good, but, then, why did I feel so agitated in the end, wondering how the film could find official distribution? I guess I found joking with human life a sacrilege or something, apparently, it's my soft spot. For the record, everyone who wants to be regarded as cool writes only the best: the film ends up in many top 10 lists for the soon-to-expire year 2010, it was deemed Best Original Screenplay from The(yet obscure) San Diego Critics Association, was nominated in BIFA's, even Sundance, and I reckon there's more to come.
Yes, I get the innovation behind this cheeky farce, of course I do, but call me old-fashioned, I'm still not convinced: this is not a comme-il-faut filml; at least, it is a thought-provoking one. And, I do have great respect for the director, who is sensitive enough to understand and not underestimate people's (and my) sensitivities; I am closing with his quote: " You're always, in comedy, going to be going somewhere near somebody's sensitivities, and that -- as anybody knows -- is part of the fun as well."