In the Loop

In the Loop

Film review by: Witney Seibold

In the Loop 1

The insults fly, rapid fire, from the lips of all the characters in “In the Loop.” People froth, underestimate, browbeat, belittle, lie, and outright insult their peers and co-workers. At times, it almost feels like a particularly witty and British version of one on David Mamet’s films.  What’s more, “In the Loop” is full of impenetrable political shoptalk that audiences will have trouble understanding, and, it seems pretty clear, few of the characters fully understand themselves.

This is the world of international C-level politics. The world of office workers, local mayors and neighborhood representatives. The world of cubicle-dwelling wonks, and put-upon interns. A world where, according to this film, all the real political decisions get made.

Tom Hollander plays a British mayoral-type named Simon Foster who clearly doesn’t have the stomach for the job, and is pleased to sit back and relax at political meetings with higher-ups. He’s pleased to let his new intern Toby (Chris Addison) do all the actual heavy lifting. One day, realizing that he’s little more than a seat-filler, decides to pipe up with something witty. He says the future of war is unknowable. That phrase was just vague enough to incur the bottomless ire of his spitting boss (Peter Capaldi). When Simon tries to apologize, and say something clearly anti-war, he screws up, and actually manages to work in the phrase “Climb the mountain of conflict.” This is not good. Is this low-level politician arguing for England to enter the war?

(Evidently, the world is on the brink of war in the world, although it’s never stated what the war is about, or what country in which it will take place. I suspect that this film is trying to examine what cause the U.S. to go into Iraq in 2003)

In the Loop 2

Certain Americans catch wind of Simon’s phrases and also panic. Karen Clark (Mimi Kennedy) and her assistant Liz (Anna Chlumsky, remember her?) are trying to get Simon to rescind his statements, and get a report out to show that entering a war would be a bad idea. The hawk-like super-republican (David Rasche) is trying to get secret committees set up in order to get people on his side, and actually go to war. James Gandolfini plays a retired general, Steve Coogan has a cameo as an angry landowner, and an actor named Zach Woods plays a hilariously insufferably brownnoser named Chad.

By the time all these arguments and indecisions and half-truths and poorly-thought-out plans make their way to the UN, people begin to outwardly lie and manipulate and insult in order to get their agenda heard. Not because they feel their agenda is necessarily the right thing, but because having their own agenda heard will be a point of pride.

This is not, however, a back-room political thriller; it’s a comedy of manners. Political wartime decisions, director Armando Ianucci seems to be saying, are made by strong characters fighting for their own egos within office circles, and not about actual politics. By the time people begin voting, the decisions have been made, the egos have been crush or slaked, and the machine churns on. It’s really actually a very pessimistic, and I’m guessing accurate, view of the political system, and how the tiniest misspoken words can get the international community in a tizzy, and perhaps lead to war.

It’s a very funny film, too. I did like the rapid-fire dialogue, and some of the insults were just golden. A youngster is called “Baby from Eraserhead” at one point. I love references to “Eraserhead.”

Also, Anna Chlumsky is an actress those of a certain generation remember from a 1991 film called “My Girl.” She worked through about 1998, and then vanished from the acting world for about a decade. For those little boys who had a crush on her when she was 12, you can now see how pretty she’s become at age 28.

Anna Chlumsky In the Loop

Published in: on September 3, 2009 at 2:59 pm  Comments (1)  

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. heya a just want to say u such a good actor i wish u brought out more of they movies called my girl i use to sit glued to it

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