It’s in the natural order to see politicians lead journalists and the public in circles. Their job serves as spin to make the public feel good about who is representing them, and they are excellent in making us feel that we need whatever they provide. At the time of writing Adelaide sets a good example with their stadium debate: two parties promising different versions of the same outcome. Many think it’s the greatest prospect for the city yet; others think the money could be spent elsewhere. Either way it’s happening and it all comes down to who we vote into power. Because it’s these people who call the shots. And whatever democratic government you’re looking at it’s the same principle. But when the stakes are much higher, communication is the most important key.
As the British Prime Minister’s Communications director, Malcolm Tucker (Peter Capaldi) finds himself in a prickly situation. When International Development minister Simon Foster (Valkyrie’s Tom Hollander) claims that war (with the Middle East) is unforeseeable and that they must ‘climb the mountain of conflict’ it’s the beginning of a political frenzy that manages to sprawl across British-American relations. Along with the minister who doesn’t know what he thinks or how to handle himself, throw in a bumbling advisor Toby Wright (Chris Addison) who can’t man up to his responsibilities and an American team as sneaky as the Brits and you have a war within a (potential) war. The rivalry between the traditional Allies is played up as In The Loop plays around with pop references, but is served with a typically British flavour. In a similar vein to TV’s The Office, the film carries a haughty aura about it; a mocking in the way the hostility and sarcasm is carried across between characters on-screen. But it’s this dry humour that holds this otherwise bland film together.
Director Armando Iannucci’s choice to transfer his BBC show The Thick of It to the big screen has it’s pros and cons. Purely as a film, In The Loop looks at the circles politics runs around, and while most find how they manage to stay afloat fascinating, there’s only so much wittiness and quips we can watch before we get irritated at the fact that not much actually happens. But Iannucci makes it clear to know who to love and who to hate, which often makes watching a film that bit easier. It appears he was smart to keep the central character in his show’s transition; Peter Capaldi is comfortable in the role of Tucker as he should be, given he’s played him for three TV seasons. He’s the glue that holds the film together and his frustration at not getting anything done is intriguing – there are some real gems in the countless curses this Scotsman manages to spit out. The cultural confusion between the Brits and the Americans is amusing also; seeing the Yanks interact with their take on the ways of British sarcasm is rarely seen on the big screen. James Gandolfini as Lieutenant General George Miller shows a side away from his Sopranos days, while Anna Chlumsky from My Girl is grown up and all the professional as Liza Weld. The intimate camera work gives us attachment but sometimes with the feel of a mockumentary, which at times is paradoxical. The script is undoubtedly witty though, and while not much actually happens it’s engaging enough.
So we really do go in circles… with politicians, its part of the job description. Still, In The Loop is an amusing reality check that suggests nothing happens if we stick inside the square.