13 January 2010

Review: "In the Loop"

In the Loop is the rare British film that has garnered a significant amount of press in North America. It is a spinoff of a television show on BBC called The Thick of It, which satirizes modern day politics. It is the first full-length feature by Armando Iannucci, a well-known radio and television figure in Britain. In the Loop has its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2009, and opened in North America this past summer. The film satirized the governments of both the United Kingdom and the United States, which may be the reason why the film received a lot of attention here. The film stars Peter Capaldi (in the same role as on The Thick of It), Tom Hollander, Chris Addison, Mimi Kennedy, James Gandolfini and Anna Chlumsky. The first is deliciously funny, and its script is one of the most well written in recent memory.

The film begins when Simon Foster (Hollander), the Minister for International Development, states on a radio broadcast that the war in the Middle East is unforeseeable. He is told off by one of the Prime Minister's spin doctors, Malcolm Tucker (Capaldi). This scandal happens amidst a visit by United States government officials. The U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (Diplomacy), Karen Clarke (Kennedy), believes that her colleague Linton (David Rasche) has organized an under the radar war committee. Karen wants to use Simon and his assistant Toby (Addison), as well as her own aide Liza (Chlumsky) to uncover this secret committee. Karen also tries to encourage Lieutenant General Miller (Gandolfini) to join her team. While the British government tries to cover up its scandal, the American government is trying to hide an anti-war report written by Liza. In the Loop is a wonderfully written political satire that is laugh out loud funny while being thought provoking.

The dialogue of In the Loop is so perfectly written that it often does not matter if the actors can act or not. Malcolm Tucker's every line is laced with so much profanity that by the end of the film it is no longer shocking. There is a beautiful line near the end of the film that is so perfect that I had to stop the film and rewind it. The plot of the film may seem very complicated, but the film moves so quickly that while you may not be in the loop you will be shocked and amazed by the events on screen. In the Loop is a great political satire, some elements more obvious than others, but it is smartly written and directed. It is a film worth seeing, not just because of its topical humour, but because it is a real gem in a world with such poorly conceived comedies.

One thought after seeing the film: What would Avatar have been if its screenplay was half as good as this one?

My rating: 4 stars out of 4.

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