Friday, 22 January 2010


Now Showing
Madman Films

If the advent of the invasion of Iraq in 2002 actually went down as depicted in this political satire, then one really shouldn't be laughing so much. But the one liners – and expletives – come thick and fast in this spin-off from the BBC series The Thick of It.

When government minister Simon Foster (Tom Hollander) makes a gaffe on radio, declaring war as “unforeseeable”, all hell breaks loose. The Prime Minister's Director of Communications, Malcolm Tucker (Peter Capaldi), who drops the f-bomb (and the c-word) as easily as he breathes, is not happy and demands silence from Foster. That doesn't go so smoothly when Foster is ambushed by the media and events escalate.

Tucker decides to send Foster and his new PA, Toby (Chris Addison), to Washington on a fact finding mission ie out of the way, only to have him become involved in a tug-of-war between the peace-at-all-costs US Assistant Secretary for Diplomacy, Karen Clarke (Mimi Kennedy) and her ally General Miller (James Gandolfini), and the pro-war Assistant Secretary Linton Barwick (David Rasche).

Despite its television roots and political setting, The West Wing it's not. Nor does it have that show's cinematic look; director Armando Iannucci opting for the handheld, fly-on-the-wall approach. But In The Loop manages to succeed thanks to its sharp writing – nailing the political double-speak and delivering a barrage of one liners – and its spot-on characterizations by a fine, mostly British cast.

A subplot involving a resident's complaint about his mother's collapsing wall, however, seems only to have been included as means to involve Steve Coogan, perhaps as a favour to Iannucci with whom he has worked on various TV projects. That odd detour aside, In The Loop hits more often than it misses and is well worth your vote.

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