Morris reveals Four Lions

Satire premieres at Sundance

Chris Morris’s provocative terrorist-based comedy Four Lions has received its world premiere at the prestigious Sundance film festival.

The satire depicts a British terror cell as a bunch of incompetent losers, seeking self-importance by posing with guns and speaking incoherently of jihad.

Early reviews have said that the film, which aims to depict terrorists as idiots rather than monsters, combines farcical scenes with chillingly realistic ones, although there are no explicit scenes of innocent people being killed.

Screen International’s David D’Arcy said the comedy might be ‘too biting for its own good, writing: ‘Four Lions treads on the limits of what distributors and broadcasters might tolerate.’

He also told Radio 4’ Today programme: ‘It will offend all sorts of people: It will offend the British, it will offend Muslims, it will offend jihadists. If satire doesn’t offend people, it’s not satire. But it will also entertain many more people.’

Morris is at the Utah festival, where he is will be hoping to secure a distributor willing to release the film in the US, but has refused to be interviewed. The 44-year-old does not appear in the film, but provides a voiceover at the end. He is said to have done an incredible amount of research for the script, meeting radicals, ex-radicals and academics.

Festival founder Robert Redford defended Four Lions, saying: ‘I’m sure there are a lot of films in our festival that are deemed poor taste, it’s really down to the audience. The reason we chose the film is that we thought it was a well-made film and a very interesting one.

He admitted he hasn’t seem the film, but added: ‘I have a hunch it might not be as offensive as some people think.’

A three-star review in today’s Independent says: ‘The bombers in this movie could easily have stepped out of the television comedies Citizen Smith or Dad's Army.

‘Morris does a great job of balancing poignancy and comedy in a hard-hitting finale that shows a humanity and observational brilliance that surpasses everything else in this movie. In doing so he [explodes] a myth of terrorist bombers being trained assassins but instead exposes them as being confused young men.’

However, critic Kaleem Aftab felt the movie, partly funded by Film4, lost its footing in the second act.

Movie magazine Empire compared Four Lions to an Ealing comedy, saying ‘[It] has an intelligent and emotional subtlety that could be risky for its immediate commercial appeal. Morris doesn’t labour his satire, he concentrates on character, just as Ealing did.’

Peep Show creators Jesse Armstrong and Sam Bain wrote the script with Morris, with additional material from The Thick Of It scribe Simon Blackwell.

Here is a clip from the film:

Published: 25 Jan 2010

We see you are using AdBlocker software. Chortle relies on advertisers to fund this website so it’s free for you, so we would ask that you disable it for this site. Our ads are non-intrusive and relevant. Help keep Chortle viable.