Archive for October, 2009

In the Loop

October 7, 2009

Director – Armando Iannucci

Writers – Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci, Ian Martin, Tony Roche

Starring – Peter Capaldi, Tom Hollander, Gina McKee, James Gandolfini, Chris Addison

Synopsis

When mild-mannered minister Simon Foster (Tom Hollander) inadvertently appears to back the unannounced war on Iraq on prime-time television, he immediately attracts the attention of the PM’s venomously aggressive communications chief Malcolm Tucker (Peter Capaldi), who latches onto him like a hawk. Soon, the Brits are in Washington, where diplomatic relations collide with trans-Atlantic spin doctors and Fosters off-hand remark quickly spirals into an insurmountable mountain of conflict.

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Review

If, after watching In the Loop, you think to yourself that the premise and comedic style would suite a TV series give yourself a pat on the back; it is based on The Thick of It; one of Armando Iannucci’s many British comedy TV shows. After writing and directing many of the best episodes of I’m Alan Partridge and various other cult British television series’ Iannucci came up with The Thick of It; a comedy revolving around cabinet ministers and their selfish, but human ways. It seems that this was Iannucci’s golden ticket as, despite limited viewing figures on release, BBC Films and the UK Film Council liked the screenplay (which has an original story, rather than just an adaptation from the TV series) enough to back it.

The fact that the premise works fantastically for the TV series does by no means suggest that it doesn’t work well as a feature film; in fact quite the opposite. It’s refreshing to see a comedy that relies so heavily on dialogue actually having seamless, laugh-out-loud dialogue. If you’re not in to swearing, skip it because it really is a masterclass on how to swear; though I wont quote anything from the film as it’ll probably bomb the line.

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One of the criticisms that some people have had is that in this film where politicians decide whether to go to war or not, the politics of going to war are never actually discussed. Apart from this being the fucking point of the movie, it works well for the comedy as we see some of the most powerful politicians in the world, the people who are making the decisions, acting like children; for example one of the pro-war characters sets up the “War committee” under a secret name so that none of the anti-war characters will find out about it and join. The film basically breaks down the politicians as selfish characters who are only worried about their own jobs (most of them not actually knowing whether they want to go to war or not), so the politics of war are irrelevant.

The comedy is fresh and the pace of the film feels fine, a smooth transition for Iannucci in this department, indeed. The cinematography is nothing to be revered, although for the budget (£612,650!) and type of film it is, this is not really a problem.  More importantly all of the actors do a great job in bringing their characters to life and Iannucci does an unbelievable job of juggling them, as the story focuses on about 10 different characters; all interesting and believable.

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To sum up – An outstanding comedy that deserves every minute of its 106 on the big screen. Great to see another independent British movie shine.

Rating – 7/10