(Chris Morris; UK; 2010)
To make a comedy about ridiculously inept suicide bombers sounds like a pursuit in the name of bad taste. To have made the subject not only funny but also acceptable as an insightful mode for humour is something of an achievement. The fascinating thing about Four Lions is that it mostly avoids bad taste, shock value, and cheap laughs. This is genuinely amusing film about a very unamusing subject, and the director is not afraid to add depth and solidity to the would-be bombers, to make them likable as much as funny.
Chris Morris nicely dismantles the comedy trope of the warm fuzzy moment, making scenes that should be alarming resonant instead with warmth – I'm thinking here of the scene of the wife and son of one of the bombers bonding proudly with him over his decision to martyr himself, or the typical come-together-as-a-team-to-conquer-all moment as the bombers put aside differences in order to travel to London to complete their mission to kill themselves and others. These moments provoke a smile or laughter, but similar to Brecht's model of distanciation, there is a sliver of space to pause for thought, to wonder about why you are laughing.