Saturday, May 23, 2009

In the Loop (2009)

Armando Ianucci's political satire hides has a lot of similarities to a recent war and its build-up. In fact, it never denies the fact its obvious influence except for the obligatory disclaimer at the end of the credits that the people and events depicted in this movie are fictitious. So many films have been made about the war in Middle East and its multi-faceted nature: the actual battle on the streets (The Kingdom), its effects back home (In the Valley of Elah), its effects on the soldiers (Redacted), and many more. I think it is fair to say that the majority of these films were borderline flops, both critically and commercially. Though, personally I thought Redacted was fantastic.

What's great about In the Loop is that it offers a very fresh view of the war and its politics in that we never see or have a sense of the existence of the faces we are accustomed to in the news. We don't see the Prime Minister or the President, we don't see the Foreign Secretary or the Secretary of State. What we have here are the second- and third-tier players who seem to be aming the decisions for the famous faces.

When Simon Foster (brilliantly portrayed  by tom Hollander), the minister for International Development for Great Britain, utters the phrase that the war is a foreseeable outcome, the Prime Minister's Communications Officer, Malcolm Tucker goes ballistic. The foul-mouthed Scot makes sure that Foster can't get awy with this easily. There is a vote in the UN in the coming days and he doesn't want any mention of the war in a positive or negative light from anybody. Cue their counterparts in the US, who have their own agenda to influence the vote one way or another.

There isn't much in the sense of a plot other than some cringe-worthy and hilarious meetings in either side of the Atlantic and Foster's constant humiliation by his peers. However, the crisp writing and a subtle sense of humour makes this a very engaging satire. There is a slight glitch in the third act where the tone shifts to become a little serious, but does little damage to overall effect. Like last year's Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay, the film is one of the better recent films about the contemporary political climate. And it is just as funny.

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