Wednesday, September 2, 2009

In the Loop (2009)



Not so bright politician, Simon (Tom Hollander), and his new aid, Toby (Chris Addison), are suddenly caught in the middle of a political mess with pressure to support a war, despite a public statement of opposition. Caught between heavy war support coming from their superiors and American allies, the two must tread the political waters carefully as everything they say is constantly being used against them.

This 2009 british comedy was recommended to me by a friend of mine, a dark, satirical, look at the political system, with great wit, and a sense of realism and allegory to the 2002 Iraq War push. All of the characters in the film are heavily flawed, and as such provides a deep look, and questions just who is running the country? For example Simon is good hearted, but dim witted, and constantly fails to say the right thing at the right moment. Heavy war opposition General Miller (James Gandolfini) is vulgar, with questionable sexual desires that are hinted at throughout the film.

In contrast to these characters, the war supporters are self absorbed, and generally cocky individuals who are as easy to hate as you'd ever want them to be. Played wonderfully by its cast, In the Loop has a great advantage of having the perfect person for each role, in that exact role. This makes the film far more enjoyable, and at the same time a more intriguing affair that brings each character to life a bit. This is especially crucial since beyond Simon and Toby, the rest of the cast have maybe 3-4scenes max where they are featured in anything resembling a dominant fashion, most are instead scene conversing in the background.

As a comedy, which it most definitely is, In the Loop is a combination of huge laughs, no laughs, and thoughtful laughs. Throughout the film I found myself phasing between all three rather constantly, leaving me feeling a bit disjointed. The camera work doesn't help much, filmed in a documentary style (without the personal interviews), the shakey camera feeling seems out of place. You don't get the feeling you're right in the middle of the room with them any more than you would with a straight setup camera shot. In this case it feels as if it is style for the purpose of claiming it to be style, but not necessary, and often distracting.

The writing is a mixed bag of great story, good jokes, good dialogue, mediocre story telling, and bad focus. Yet when it comes down to it the good outweigh the bad, making In the Loop a political comedy well worth seeing.

Overall In the Loop offers a quirky look at the people behind the scenes in politics, with a strong wit that makes it worth your time.

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