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IFFBoston 2009: In the Loop

“Within your ‘purview’? Where do you think you are, some fucking regency costume drama? 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!”–Malcolm Tucker

My inaugural blog post, thankfully, is a pretty special for me since I’m not one who is able to get to a lot of film festivals at all. But thankfully, I just happened to be in Boston this past week where the Independent Film Festival Boston was taking place. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to check out all of the movies, I did catch three incredibly different movies that I had heard about from various other festivals. I’ll post about the other two at a later time but the first movie I caught ended up being my favorite of the bunch.

In the Loop from director Armando Iannucci is an incredibly sharp and outrageously hilarious political satire about the American and British governments lead up to a fictional war in the Middle East. The film stars Peter Capaldi, Tom Hollander, Gina McKee, James Gandolfini, Chris Addison, Mimi Kennedy, Anna Chlumsky, and Paul Higgins.

This film from top to bottom is absolutely hilarious. There’s no other way to say it. There are very few down spots and every one turns in great comedic performances from top to bottom. The film starts off with government worker Simon Foster, played with a great subtle look of despair by Tom Hollander) making an innocuous comment about war being “unforeseeable” during a radio interview. This raises the ire and interest of everybody from the British Prime Minister’s spin doctor Malcolm Tucker (played absolutely stunningly by Peter Capaldi)and the main opponent against the war in United States Karen Clarke (Mimi Kennedy) and Lt. Gen. George Miller (James Gandolfini)

Played straight, this could play as a fairly dull, rote parlor drama but Ianucci has filled out his cast with some amazing comedic actors who do an amazing job of bringing boundless energy to their roles and building great character relationships around them.


Peter Capaldi gives a great raging performance as government spin doctor Malcolm Tucker blasting through his very first scene with an endless barrage of furious swear words and a great righteous anger for everyone around him. Its a stellar central performance that is a highlight in an already great movie. Once he enters the screen, I found myself inching closer to the screen trying to catch on to every unbelievable barrage of insults for anyone who dares being incompetent around him.

Gandolfini and Kennedy also amazing stand outs, not just separately, but also together as the two have great chemistry together. I wouldn’t mind spinning them off into their own movie as every scene they share is wonderful. In the Q&A afterwards, the director said that a pivotal scene towards the end had a bit of improvisation by Gandolfini that pulled back the curtain on their past relationship that was never directly shared in the film. But their interactions together definitely hints at their greater relationship and I think much of that has to do with the great back and forth between these two wonderful actors.

Every one is on the top of their game in this movie. Tom Hollander’s Sam Foster is the great scapegoat for the film as both pro-war and anti-war people attempt to maneuver this unassuming man into their side and help push each of their agendas when all he seems to want is to keep his job and feel important. A character that could be a one note mess becomes a greatly layered individual who never seems to actually share his own views of the war, if he even has one. He spends most of his time trying not to look stupid in front of the media while accomplishing the exact opposite.

The assistants played in the movie by Chris Addison and Anna Chlumsky have their own relationship subplot that I guess would barely count as one which I think just goes to show the brilliance of the movie. Everything is about political maneuvering even the one night stand that these two share.

After the film, there was a short Q&A with the director. He gave some great insight into the influences that went into the film. He also gave a slight overview on what was improvised and what wasn’t as well as which scenes were based on real life incidences.

In the Loop is a spectacular movie from start to finish with a great mix of broad humor and sharp political sentiments while still being hilarious all the way through. There’s so much I’m probably leaving out right now but I think I’ve gone on long enough on how good this movie is. Apparently, the movie is already out in England right now and comes out in limited release here in the States on July 24. I highly recommend that anybody reading this check it out.

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