In the Loop
- The List
- 16 April 2009
The special relationship gets a prick (or pricks) of Waughian satire in this hilarious political comedy by The Thick of It creator Armando Iannucci. When the US president and UK prime minister tout the desire for more war to quell insurrection (without Brechtian irony) their underlings and civil servants go into an overdrive of aggression, appeasement and foggy communication. With only three characters returning from his award-winning TV comedy, this is less a film retread than Iannucci’s addition to that much neglected genre of apocalyptic satire, once so well served by Kubrick’s Dr Strangelove and to a lesser extent the 1986 film version of another much eulogised British TV comedy series Whoops Apocalypse.
Working again with his brilliant The Thick of It writers Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell and Tony Roche, Iannucci places press department new boy Toby (Chris Addison, a name change reprisal of sorts) within shrapnel range of venomous press secretary Malcolm Tucker (Peter Capaldi, brilliant) and other political inadequates empowered to make decisions with enormous consequences. These include a dove-ish US army General (James Gandolfini) and a foot-in-mouth junior British minister Simon Foster (Tom Hollander).
Switching from the UK to the US political scene, Iannucci and co amusingly play on culture-clash variations of Bernard Shaw’s ‘two peoples separated by a common language’. Like all great satire In the Loop sweeps up uncomfortable truths with farce. Foul-mouthed to the point of Tourette’s, In the Loop is a joy of irreverence and a very absurd and peculiar type of tomfoolery.
Eschewing the worthy production of recent war and politics dramas such as Lions For Lambs or TV’s The West Wing for a docudrama style, In the Loop feels gutsy and progressive even when strands of the narrative are unnecessary and forced (a subplot involving Steve Coogan as a moaning local constituent feels particularly misjudged). In terms of erudition and political savvy it’s the most intelligent British film in an age.
General release from Fri 17 Apr.