The Fugue of War


I highly recommend the UK production In the Loop, especially if you enjoy gleefully cynical inside-politics satire. The film's been out since late July here in the States, in limited release at "art-house" cinemas and multiplexes big enough to spare a screen for independent flicks.

logo 'In the Loop'

To be honest, I'm afraid of how little exaggeration there may be in this (fictional)
tale of the run-up to a war in the Middle East based on flimsy — if not fabricated — material produced by factions in the US and British governments. But the movie is less an indictment of hawkish politicians per se or some would-be filmic roman à clef about the Bush Administration than it is an all-too-believable comedic gloss on how any perspective can be spun and sold through power, determination, technology, and the right people saying the right kind of thing somewhere amidst the 24/7 media machine.

Peter Capaldi is hilariously foul-mouthed in his rapid-fire Scottish brogue as, I think, an enforcer of sorts from the UK Prime Minister's office trying to rein in a hapless junior minister and coordinate with US Assistant Secretaries of State at odds with one another over the prospect of war. The characters on the British side, especially, seem quite casual in a way that makes their protocol hard to follow, but there's definitely a food chain, as well as disdain on the American side for the UK representatives and jockeying for position within the US contingent as well.

Director Armando Iannucci created the British TV series The Thick of It, from which
In the Loop apparently borrows some characters and even more actors cast in similar but nominally different roles. The only faces most American moviegoers will recognize belong to The Sopranos' James Gandolfini as an endearingly gruff but poignantly human US general and, possibly, Anna Chlumsky, who starred a lifetime ago in My Girl and here turns in one of the strongest performances in a film whose cast is uniformly excellent.

To help determine whether it's up your alley, there's a clip from early in the film on its website featuring Capaldi's character, scatological and uncensored. With dolly shots and dialogue that put The West Wing to shame, cameras that capture the crush of the corridors of power and then contrast it with brief but key external views of London and Washington, In the Loop is a big little film that hits the spot and leaves a bruise.


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