January 21, 2009
SUNDANCE '09 REVIEW: In the Loop
Directed by Armando Iannucci
2008, 109 minutes, United Kingdom A cynical, razor-sharp, truly laugh-out-loud farce about the symbiotic relationship between ineffectual, flip-flopping bureaucrats and the sneaky, petty spin doctors who need them, co-writer/director Armando Iannucci's loosely inspired expansion of his BBC comedy series The Thick of It values and cleverly parodies the power of language (vulgarity, doublespeak, jousting, meaningful ambiguity). A finger-on-the-button chain reaction begins with a single word as the British Minister for International Development (Tom Hollander) accidentally burbles to the media that war is "unforeseeable," much to the chagrin of the PM's foul-mouthed Director of Communications (Scottish scene-stealer Peter Capaldi, whose every insulting rant is a lightning rod for laughter), yet to the delight of those on the other side of the pond with their own pro- and anti-war agendas. The ensemble of players are introduced when the information affects each personally -- among them a peacenik Pentagon general (James Gandolfini); his ex-lover, the US Assistant Secretary for Diplomacy (Mimi Kennedy); her ambitious aide (Anna Chlumsky); her old college friend, the aforementioned British minister's political advisor (Chris Addison); and the creator of a secret war committee (David Rasche) -- their transitory alliances, double-crosses, pointed media leaks and even sexcapades punctuated with snarky, under-the-breath swipes at one another. The one-liners come so fast and furiously that they won't mean much here out of context ("Difficult, difficult, lemon difficult" and "Like Bugsy Malone but with real guns" had me in stitches), but that's the brilliant and purposeful redirect of Iannucci's satire: while we strain to catch the marginal details and sort out the hierarchic squabbling, a war is being jointly planned by the US President and the UK Prime Minister right under everyone's noses. Dr. Strangelove would surely chuckle. In the Loop premieres tomorrow night at Sundance (official page), and plays again on Jan. 23, 24 and 25.
Posted by ahillis at January 21, 2009 11:46 AM