Friday, April 24, 2009

IN THE LOOP - superb British political satire

IN THE LOOP is a British political satire written and directed by Armando Iannucci - one of the best comedy writers in Britain today, with TV shows such as THE THICK OF IT, BRASS EYE, the ALAN PARTRIDGE series and THE DAY TODAY. Iannucci's specialises intelligent, excoriating, raucously funny depictions of the British political elite and the commentators, spin doctors and civil servants who surround it - the so-called Westminster Village. IN THE LOOP is his first feature film, a spin-off of the TV show THE THICK OF IT. It shows how ministers of state on both sides of the Atlantic are bounced into a war (clearly Iraq) by spin doctors, over-eager journos and the machinations of their superiors. Politicians are shown to be callow; spin-doctors manipulative and crass and the whole lot of them incompetent and self-serving.

The resulting film is shot with the bare minimum of competence on what was all too evidently a shoe-string budget. It could've easily been shown as an extended TV special. But no matter. My friends and I were laughing out-loud uproariously from start to finish - sometimes at the filthy language - more often at the Pure Comedy Gold. Admittedly, the pace of the film slackens in the second half, and a good twenty minutes could've been cut from the run-time. But despite this, we truly laughed from start to finish and were quoting lines and scenes on the way home. Particular praise for Tom Hollander as the British politician with a proclivity to say something controversial when faced with the press and for Peter Capaldi as the foul-mouthed, pugnacious spin-doctor. On the other side of the Atlantic, Zach Woods is particularly funny as the vitriolic, arse-licking aide. Oh yes, and there's a brilliant cameo from Steve Coogan as a disgruntled constituent.

IN THE LOOP played Sundance 2009 and is currently on release in the UK. It opens in the US on July 24th.

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