So you like a little politics with your swearing…
IN THE LOOP is a thunder-paced, dialogue-driven British comedy with corruption more insidious than SYRIANA and dialogue more fierce than PULP FICTION.
Simon Foster (Tom Hollander) is a small-thinking, mealy-mouthed, indecisive, powerless British politician (i.e. your average politician, British or otherwise), craving to be taken seriously in the worst way. After a war conference between British and American movers and shakers which he is “allowed” to attend as “a piece of meat” (to his chagrin), he is accosted by reporters and sees his chance to prove he is In The Loop with the big boys.
On the spot, stuttering like a motorboat, Foster blurts a statement, “To walk the road of peace, we must be prepared to climb the mountain of conflict,” seemingly advocating Allied war with the Middle East. But the war council (euphemistically named the Future Planning Committee) spins a contrary stance; Foster’s statement goes from damage control to viral to bumper sticker in a matter of hours. And he suddenly finds himself being taken seriously. In the worst way.
From trying to get his feet wet, to trying to keep his head above water…
Foster is the foot-in-mouth device that sets IN THE LOOP in motion, but the movie belongs to one man amongst this unquestionably stellar cast: Peter Capaldi as British Director of Communications Malcolm Tucker. With his guttural denunciations and his blackly humorous manner of direct confrontation, Capaldi propels this movie like a saw-toothed shark, all in his proximity quailing before his grievous-bodily-harm loquacious embrace: “This is a government department, not some fucking Jane fucking Austen novel! Allow me to pop a jaunty little bonnet on your purview and ram it up your shitter with a lubricated horse cock!” Capaldi makes IN THE LOOP the SEXY BEAST of political farces.
And everyone rises to the occasion to keep up. With four writers credited to the screenplay (Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Tony Roche and director Armando Iannucci), dialogue is more syrupy vicious than Tarantino’s wet dreams. It’s almost distracting. I could listen to these guys creatively insult each other all day, screw the plot.
The lovely Gina McKee is Tucker’s executive assistant; David Rasche is an American politician, playing it like an evil Ed Begley Jr.; rosy-cheeked Chris Addison is the new young junior assistant to Foster, whose reply to Foster’s summation that the situation will be “easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy” is that it will be “difficult-difficult-lemon-difficult.” And Foster’s foot-in-mouth kicks in when he repeats that to the whole war council…
When Foster flees the limelight back to his local council, where he must listen to old ladies complain about septic tanks and concerned citizen Steve Coogan complain about a council wall falling into his mother’s backyard, he realizes being a flustered meat puppet wasn’t half bad after all, and returns to the abrasive pounce of Tucker.
Only one man can stand down Tucker’s acid tongue–Tony Soprano! James Gandolfini as a three-star American General, who realizes that only those who have not experienced war crave it so glibly, and whose bearlike presence and quiet, overbearing certitude swiftly puts Tucker in his place. “You’re his little English bitch and you don’t even know it. Bet if I came to your hotel room tonight, I’d find you down on all fours, him hanging out the back of you.” Bada-bing!
There are no explosions, car chases or murders–these people are much worse; explosive, unchaste and backbiting, their covert, duplicitous war decisions apt to cost many more lives than simple explosions, car chases or murders. And the whole cast is shot through with a streetwise cynicism and amoral ambiguity that just reeks of life on the beltway.
If you like your comedy intelligent, witty and frighteningly rude, IN THE LOOP is your bacchanal.