In The Loop - DVD Review

'parts of the script are just too clever to have been made up on the spot; 'What happens in Washington, stays in Washington', says naive aide Toby to his love interest, 'well... I live in Washington so that doesn't work for me', she replies'

In The Loop follows hapless politician Simon Foster (Tom Hollander) through a series of political miss-haps across Britain and American through, roughly, a week or so. Pursued every step of the way by vicious communications director Malcolm Tucker (Peter Capaldi) and simultaneously hampered and aided by his... erm... aides, Judy Molloy (Gina McKee) and Toby Wright (Chris Addison), Foster must attempt to stave off his political suicide by fighting neither for, nor against, a war he doesn't understand.

In The Loop is a feature-length political satire which spawned from the British series The Thick Of It. Director/Writer Armando Ianucci's basic premise is that things that happen in politics are funny enough without dressing them up with clever setups or slapstick humour. And so we have all of the 'funny' things you see on a day to day basis from your politicians; aides running around to secure last minute support for a vote, politicians denying something they said only a moment ago, the dichotomy between setting foreign policy and carrying out constituent surgeries, etc, etc.

Iannucci excels in bringing these things to the screen in articulate and well staged ways and the scripting, as with The Thick Of It, remains excellent. Much of that series was improvised and I imagine the same thing is true of In The Loop although some things just seem too clever to have been made up on the spot; 'What happens in Washington, stays in Washington', says naive aide Toby to his love interest (the really quite brilliant Anna Chlumsky) 'well... I live in Washington so that doesn't work for me', she replies.

You can't have a satire without some rasping comedy villain/anti-hero to show us how stupid everyone else is, a role excellently brought to live here by Peter Capaldi's Malcolm Tucker. Apparently based on Tony Blair's ex-Director of Communications (read: Director of Spin) Alistair Campbell, he steals every scene with his expletive laden put downs that are eminently quotable; 'Climbing the mountain of conflict?' he sneers at a Foster quote at one point, before delivering his evaluation; 'you sound like a Nazi Julie Andrews.' There are more, many more, but we could be here all day if I stop to pick out the best ones.

The negatives? Well, like in the recent Dorian Gray with it's own walking quote machine Lord Henry, Malcolm does have the tendency to appear too often and only speak in witty epigrams when he does. Similarly, the American political contingent just aren't either as funny or as inept as their British counterparts. In the film's defence, The Thick Of It has had a number of series' to bed its characters in whilst the newly introduced characters don't get that luxury. Having said that, I haven't watched too much of the TV series and to me the Americans still seemed rather stereotypical comedy-politicians rather than the well rounded Brits who are not just believable characters but also believable 'people'.

In all though, it's a brilliant tale, made even more so by the fact that Iannucci knows that to be a truly moral satire, there must be some emotional real-world weight behind what it says and does, a fact which the conclusion reflects all too accurately. And, that's your lot, review over, or, as Malcolm Tucker would say, 'fuckety bye-bye!'

1 comment:

  1. 2 reviews in a week? Man I feel like it's christmas already :P. I saw this movie a while back, and I thought it was ok when I first watched it. Was definitely a solid comedy, you almost kind of wonder how much of it is "real."