Politic-A-Thon: In The Loop Review

So to kick off my first blog-a-thon, I decided to do a film that I think deserves to be seen by much more people and is one of the best political films made, Armando Ianucci’s In The Loop. Now I feel that this is one of the funniest films ever made but not enough people have seen it so I think it’s time for me to introduce some more people to this film.
Now the plot of the film concerns a fictionalised retelling of the lead-up to the war in Iraq, focused on the British side, particularly on the ineptitude of International Development Minister Simon Foster, along with the efforts of a few Americans, some who want to prevent the war and some who want the war. Now a lot of films have focused on the Iraq War but this feels like the most realistic version of the build-up. It presents a view that the reason the Iraq War started wasn’t to save Iraq, but to save the political careers of the people involved. This works as throughout the film there are points where all the characters have a chance to stop the war, but for the sake of their careers they continue. In fact, there is only one person strongly in favour of the war, US Assistant Secretary of State Linton Barwick, who is portrayed as a complete nutter who is so obsessed by the military that he uses a grenade as a paper weight. In this way, the world of satire creates the most honest portrayal of a lead up to war.

The script meanwhile is one of the best written in recent years. There are so many great set-ups for jokes, with scenes making fun of the ever lowering age of White House officials, military equations being calculated on a kids calculator and scenes of rapid panic over forging military documents. Amidst all of these excellent scenes, the film is punctuated with utterly hilarious dialogue, most of it being excellently delivered by Peter Capaldi and Paul Higgins. This dialogue is endlessly quotable, can be used in real life events and is just a lot of fun to listen to when combined with the outstanding delivery.

The performances meanwhile help make the film so funny. The obvious standout is Peter Capaldi as Malcolm Tucker, one of the funniest characters every created and Capaldi relishes the dialogue, going all in with the sheer level of anger in every delivery and he plays off brilliantly with all the other cast members. This anger is also what makes Paul Higgins so good as Jamie McDonald. Tom Hollander is also great as Simon Foster, brilliantly selling the utter hopelessness and spinelessness of the character and just how pathetic he is during the whole event. Chris Addison meanwhile is great as Toby, the most despicable character in the film, doing everything he can to get to the top and willing to drop his girlfriend to those ends, but Addison makes the character so likable despite the sheer awfulness of the character. There are also good, small performances from Gina McKee, Alex MacQueen James Smith, Joanna Scanlan and Steve Coogan. On the American side, the standout is the sadly departed James Gandolfini who is excellent as General Miller, showing just how against war he is, has a great chemistry with Mimi Kennedy and his brilliant, deadpan delivery of the dialogue is some of the best delivery of the dialogue in the film. Finally there’s Anna Chlumsky as Liza Weld who works brilliantly with all the other cast members, especially Chris Addison, and really nails this style of dialogue, so much so that I wasn’t surprised at all when she reunited with Ianucci for Veep.

Overall, In The Loop is one of the best comedies ever made. The combination of brilliant dialogue and set-up for jokes with the incredibly harsh look at the build up to the Iraq War makes In The Loop not only one of the best written satires ever made but one of the most honest political films ever made.

My Rating: 5/5

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