In the Loop (2009)

Rating: B+

Dir: Armando Iannucci
Star: Tom Hollander, Peter Capaldi, Chris Addison, Anna Chlumsky

I’ve never seen the TV show (The Thick of It) which formed the basis for this feature film, but that’s an omission I feel I may have to address, sooner rather than later. For this is a very sharply-satirical look into the murky world of international affairs. A vague but unguarded answer to an unexpected question about the likelihood of war, dumps Simon Foster, the Secretary of State for International Development, into hot water. Both hawks and doves want to use him for their benefit, and he is pulled deeper into an Anglo-American political struggle.

Helping him – except, not really much help – is his new advisor (Toby Wright), while on the other side is Malcolm Tucker (Capaldi), the Prime Minster’s fearsome Director of Communications. He’s a bit angry and sweary, for example, chastizing one employee as follows: “This is a government department, not some fucking Jane fucking Austen novel! Allow me to pop a jaunty little bonnet on your ‘purview,’ and ram it up your shitter with a lubricated horse cock!” I should mention: dialogue such as the above helped get this an Oscar nom for Best Adapted Screenplay in 2010 – and fully deserved it, I’d say. While I now also find myself waiting for just the correct moment to use the wonderful word, “catastrofuck,” I have to wonder about the accuracy of its portrayal. I know it’s satire, and thus likely carries a warning label, Exaggerated For Comic Effect, but one senses it is perhaps closer to reality than one would like to think.

Certainly, it’s an unflattering portrayal of those in positions of power, who never once stop to think, “What’s best for the country?”, only ever being preoccupied with self-interest. There are no winners or good guys in this scenario: only lying and deceit for different ends. You’ll find yourself laughing, often hysterically, at the ridiculousness of it all. But then, after the final credits have rolled, you’ll find yourself saddened and rather concerned by the realization that those who govern us are likely no better than those who govern. Given the stupidity and selfishness of the general public, that’s a worrying thought.