Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 5
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

‘In the Loop’ pokes fun at Iraq war

In the satirically ravenous style of the British mockumentary (see the U.K. version of “The Office”), “In the Loop,” a new film from Armando Innucci about the joint U.S.––U.K. talks to invade Iraq, leaves nothing in its critical wake by making fun of everything from the furtive U.S. war commission to a young British political intern’s report on the pros and cons of armed struggle.

For those of you who haven’t thought about the Iraq War much, this may seem like a dated parody of a debated and tabled subject. Incorrect. “In the Loop” could not have come out at a more poignant moment in America’s short-term memory. Just when many citizens: of both the United States and United Kingdom: begin to forget the ludicrous, fib-ridden past of how and why we got into the mess that is the Iraq War, the film reminds us of the few people who wielded so much power, presenting a slew of colorful characters that never stray toward hyperbole, but remain credible, human and imperfect to a fault.

The film starts with a gaffe: not one of those Sarah Palin-esque idiocies that makes you wonder how the hell she got so high in politics and why the hell so many people like her, but an honest, probable political slip-up (one I wish more U.S. politicians would make). Simon Foster (Tom Hollander), Minister for International Development, has uttered the taboo word, “unforeseeable,” on a BBC radio broadcast with respect to a future war in the Middle East.

Of course, the “unforeseeableness” of war doesn’t really follow the British “line” (i.e. position) on war and, consequently, Foster is chastised by Malcom Tucker (Peter Capaldi), the Prime Minister’s foul-mouthed, yappy and gullible party-line enforcer (think Karl Rove, though the character is really based on Alastair Campbell). Yet, Simon somehow conjures a sort of pathetic empathy that follows him throughout the film: every time he opens his mouth: whether it’s in front of American diplomats or the British press: that oh-no-not-again emotion surfaces.

Simon soon becomes a pawn for both British and American statesmen who either cite him to back their position or want him to correct the record. By one hand, Simon is tugged by Karen Clarke (Mimi Kennedy), an American undersecretary, and Major General Miller (James Gandolfini). Both quasi-pacifists who want to slow the rush to war, Karen and General Miller are as complicated and tainted as their counterpart, Linton Barwick (David Rasche), the hyperhawkish, staunchly P.R. state department warmonger.

The film sways between feeling like a great Graham Greene novel, the ones in which a little man suddenly receives the weight (or influence) of the world on his shoulders, and a hilarious synthesis of Monty Python and “The Office.” Until you realize what is really at stake in this film: a thorough, yet morbid, critique of the way politics works on both sides of the Atlantic: be prepared for hours worth of the funniest big-screen satire in recent memory.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All Whitman Wire Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *