10 October 2009

Movie Review: In the Loop


B+

In the Loop
2009, 106mins, R
Director: Armando Iannucci
Writer (s) Armando Iannucci, Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Ian Martin, Tony Roche
Cast includes: Peter Capaldi, Tom Hollander, Gina McKee, James Gandolfini, Chris Addison, Anna Chlumsky
Release Date: 24th July 2009

Politics ehhh? What’s all that about? If political satire “In the Loop” is to be believed, a whole heap of crass nonsense. Wonderfully written and with a host of ingenious comic performances Armando Iannucci’s well timed slap to the face of world politics manages to uniformly entertain and say something clever and eye opening in the process. Considering the patchy summer we’ve just endured it’s nice to know that people are still making quality films without blowing a financial hole as deep as some countries gross capital.

After bumbling his way through a radio interview and uttering vague predictions concerning war in the Middle East, Minister for Internal Development Simon Foster (Tom Hollander) ends up putting his country and credibility in a dangerous position. In a bid to quell the military baiting caused by his statements Simon is sent to the USA by ferocious director of Communications Malcolm Tucker (Peter Capaldi), where he is welcomed by a panic ridden and unsure Washington. Everyone is desperately attempting to spin Foster’s comments for their own means and security, all the while leaving the nebbish MP and his assistant (Chris Addison) to try and rectify the devastation wrecked by his careless remarks.

Film’s like “In he Loop” aren’t built to meet conventional cinematic cravings, instead the filmmakers have set themselves a clear yet ulterior agenda, with the hope that along the way audiences might find their confection effective and buoyant. In this respect “In he Loop” is a triumph, it succeeds in striking precise barb after precise barb at the venal and childish mentality of politics whilst also cooking up a riotous comedic feast for the viewer. A knowledge of current affairs is all one requires in order to slurp up this crisp and satisfying laugh-fest, just don’t go in expecting a ripping central narrative and you’re bound to leave with a big smile and complete loss of faith in modern day governments.

The performances are succulent and expertly crafted, even if at times it seems certain characters are singing consistently from the same hymn sheet. “In the Loop” is not a picture that develops its various political entities into anything other than notable parodies of current day power players and renowned stereotypes, but in truth that’s perfectly suffice for the quick witted lampooning that Iannucci cooks up. The standout is Capaldi as the foulmouthed and hilariously brash communications representative Malcolm Tucker, a spin-doctor type not far removed from several recent figures in British politics. Capaldi is a whirlwind of hysterics and energy, attacking every line of dialogue with a savage comic proficiency and obvious will to light up the screen. Hollander flounders commendably as sad-sack MP Simon Foster, his shared scenes with Capaldi obvious candidates for the movies most enjoyable moments. James Gandolfini makes a welcome addition as a high ranking Pentagon official whilst Anna Chlumsky who many might remember as the young heroine from “My Girl” is back – packing a delicious sarcastic streak in compensation for her lack of doe eyed cuteness.

From a narrative standpoint “In the Loop” is very ordinary and that perhaps prevents it from hitting the top tier of satire, but its five screenwriters should still be very happy with the fantastic script they’ve penned. The Dialogue is profanity ridden but intensely funny and with some incisive insights into modern politics to compliment the acidic quips, “In the Loop” having openly sacrificed poignant storytelling for commendable bursts of giggles and modern day relevance. The documentary aesthetic deployed ads to the realism and blunt parallels with the disgraceful condition of current day legislatures, Iannucci successfully melding his technical styling’s to further enhance the jostling comedy and skilled commentary.

“In the Loop” is primarily a success because it works as a comedy but also because it never pulls back a punch. If “In the Loop” was a fist and the world of politics an arm, it’s safe to say that the latter would be severely hospitalized. Iannucci and co. have stuck to their guns and slaughtered the disjointed and cowardly political state of the world, and as a consequence offered audiences a pretty darn smart and ultimately amusing time.


A review by Daniel Kelly, 2009

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