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  In the Loop The Price Of Power
Year: 2009
Director: Armando Iannucci
Stars: Peter Capaldi, Tom Hollander, Gina McKee, James Gandolfini, Chris Addison, Anna Chlumsky, Paul Higgins, Mimi Kennedy, Alex McQueen, Olivia Poulet, David Rasche, James Smith, Zach Woods, Enzo Cilenti, Johnny Pemberton, Joanna Scanlan, Steve Coogan
Genre: ComedyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: British government minister Simon Foster (Tom Hollander) has been interviewed on the radio and inadvertently made a gaffe, at least in the eyes of Malcolm Tucker (Peter Capaldi), the Prime Minister's chief spin doctor, who doesn't like the way Foster described the conflict brewing in the Middle East as "unforseeable". There is indeed a possible military intervention being planned by the British and American governments there, but it was only being discussed behind closed doors, and for Foster to make it sound as if it could well be inevitable is dangerous talk. Tucker has to implement damage limitation, and fast...

In the Loop was, like a great many British comedy films in the seventies, based on a television sitcom, only this was judged a cut above the likes of On The Buses due to the savagery of its humour: basically the comedy stemmed from the amount of shouting and swearing that went on in each episode. For the big screen version, many of the same cast were kept on, with Capaldi essaying his memorable role as the government's attack dog once more, although other actors played alternative parts, making this slightly confusing for the fans. Still, it wasn't a major adjustment to make, and here, just like in those sitcom movies, the characters got to go on holiday.

Well, they got to go to the United States, and they were supposed to be working, but the same conventions applied. Here North American stars, or star character actors anyway, appeared such as James Gandolfini and David Rasche, both of whom had popular television successes behind them and were obviously savouring the harsh dialogue which series creator Armando Iannucci and his team of writers provided for them. But while it wore its intelligence on its sleeve, its cynicism about political life wore the viewer down and finally became exhausting; there was always an essential bleakness running through Iannucci's comedy, which left very few rays of sunshine to hint at any hope in global politics.

And if there was no hope on the international stage, what hope was there for, say, one man hoping to get his wall seen to in Foster's constituency? Actually it's Foster's wall and the man (Steve Coogan) is seeking some kind of help in keeping it up, a laboured metaphor for the crisis the characters are facing, but supplying a neat get out at the end when the M.P. needs to be disposed of. Or will he resign? After making the "unforseeable" mistake, Foster finds himself in the position of struggling with his conscience as the Americans seek his help in bolstering their push for war, and he's such a bumbler you wonder how on earth he ever got into this position of power in the first place; it's a little lazy and playing to the gallery to depict the minister as an incompetent fool.

Mind you, this is supposed to be funny, yet the sharper points tend to be lost in the flurry of offence, as if classic sitcom Yes, Minister had been retooled as insult comedy. Why not come out and say that the Middle Eastern country at the heart of the trouble was Iraq, for instance? It seems rather impotent to make great play of how accurate the atmosphere of modern politics was being conjured up and then falter when it could be naming names - although maybe not too literally, as the BBC's legal department might have had something to say about that. So what you're left with is well acted sketches where either one character is humiliated or another wins in a skirmish of oneupmanship, as meanwhile the world goes to hell in a handcart, with no sign of any improvement on the horizon. The society of power depicted here consists of the select few herding the unruly sheep of the rest of them, constantly wrestling with damage limitation with no concept of how this is affecting the world in the long run. And it's every bit as funny as that sounds. Music by Adem Ilhan.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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