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“Twelve thousand troops. But that’s not enough. That’s the amount that are going to die. And at the end of a war you need some soldiers left, really, or else it looks like you’ve lost.”
Starring: Peter Capaldi, James Gandolfini, Tom Hollander, David Rasche, Gina McKee, Chris Addison, Steve Coogan, Anna Chlumsky, Mimi Kennedy
Director: Armando Iannucci
Run time: 102 minutes
DVD distributor: Alliance Films
In The Loop is a biting satire, a wonderful black comedy and a terrific tongue-in-cheek look at the beginnings of the Iraq war. It is also a little bit too pleased with itself. Yes, it’s clever. And yes, it’s extremely well done to the point where it’s almost believable as a historical account of the British-American complicity in the fabrication of the evidence that led to the invasion in the Middle East. But it’s not that clever. And I got the sense, watching it, that an awful lot of this movie was an inside joke to which I was not privy. I have followed, very closely, the history of the Iraq war. I am aware of the “intelligence” linking Al-Quaeda to Saddam Hussein, obtained from a single source that was suspect at best, and fed through the British before being recycled back to the Americans as a justification for invasion.
But although I am pretty well-versed in this despicable saga, I still felt as though I was missing a lot of the comedy in In The Loop, and that several references were being made to things and events with which I was not familiar. I hate to borrow a phrase from last year’s American presidential campaign, but a lot of this stuff felt like “Inside Baseball”. By the way, isn’t that one of the most annoying phrases to come out of that campaign? Inside Baseball? Anyway.
That being said, the bulk of In The Loop is tremendously entertaining and intelligent. At its best, it’s scathing and brilliant. James Gandolfini, as an American general who has been to war and is therefore against any invasion of Iraq, is absolutely fantastic. The British actors are wonderful, especially Peter Capaldi as a filthy-mouthed director of communications for the Prime Minister and Tom Hollander as a hapless British Secretary of State who is in way over his head. The performances in this film, to a person, are letter-perfect.
The British humour, the fast pace of the film and a terrific script make In The Loop a fantastic ride. It’s just one that might pass over the heads of many of us, those of us who can’t remember every little detail of the British complicity in the “intelligence” reports that led to the invasion of Iraq. But you know, watch it anyway. It comes out November 10th from Alliance Films.