Review: In The Loop (2009 — dir. Armando Iannucci)

The “hush-hush, wink-wink, say-no-more” world of foreign policy proves hilariously terrifying in Armando Iannucci’s satire, In the Loop, as those in control attempt to keep a lid on the things on their half-witted decisions. Nevertheless, amidst their confused and overtly cautious demeanor, Iannucci’s cast delivers the sharpest and most hilarious dialogue on screen last year; thus bringing to life one of the funniest cinematic satires of the last ten years.

In the Loop’s convoluted world of secrets and leaks begins with a simple slip of the tongue. During a radio interview, England’s hopelessly inept Minister for International Development, Simon Foster (Tom Hollander), skirts by the scripted responses regarding conflicts in the Middle East. This does not sit well with his foul mouth boss, Malcolm Tucker (Peter Capaldi), but does find an audience with a group of American officials looking for foreign support to outwardly oppose the rumored war.

Simultaneously, Foster and his assistant, Toby (Chris Addison), head to Washington, DC, finding them at the center of a political tug of war as American officials attempt to unpack the Minister’s nonsensical sound bytes and use them for their own agenda. However, unbeknownst to the Americans, Foster’s inability to handle even the most simple of tasks, such as stating his opinion or in most cases the state’s opinion, is only equaled by the American’s predilection for keeping important information secret. As the film continues, both sides unknowingly release vital information, which in itself gets spun for each country’s own needs.

The film centers on the need to delay, whether it be a meeting, a vote, or correspondence. Throughout the picture, each character spends most of their time diverting attention from their most recent mistake, and likewise, the director fills the screen with an array of aural distractions but visual truths. Iannucci’s documentary style and the film’s lively performances keep everything grounded in reality, even when the actors literally bleed from the teeth. The quick zooms, rack focuses, and expressive framing bring out each characters fundamental inadequacies, as well as reflecting their own inconsistencies. Ultimately, the camera work makes each character appear as deceitful and/or unassuming as the script describes, and to the same token, evokes their frustration with their own lack of control.

Iannucci and his crack team of writers (Jesse Armstrong, Harold Manning, Ian Martin, and Tony Roche) wade the murky waters of political power with break neck speed leaving no corner of the political war-machine unmarred. With quips ranging from the personal to the professional, the writers give an unassuming realism to their cynically crafted world; thus, allowing each character to act as a vessel for some of the best and quickest set of one-liners since the untimely death of “Arrested Development.”

More impressively is the way the cast breathes life into such difficult script. Each member grabbing onto the joke-a-minute attitude of the film and delivering their parts with an enthusiasm that fill the screen with excitement. This chemistry allots the performers the necessary materials to expound upon each carefully chosen, although farcical, piece of material.

In the Loop revels in its vast array of strengths and eccentricities through each portion of its production. From the dynamite scripting, pitch perfect cast, and honest cinematography, the entire movie remains endlessly hilarious, yet remarkably human causing it to ring a little too true for comfort. The cynicism towards those in power leaves the audience hoping that those with the finger on the button are a little smarter than the these characters, but given how believable the whole thing feels, there remains little reason for optimism.