Socialist Worker

In The Loop - brilliant satire can’t match the total idiocy of reality

The new film In The Loop shows that the truth is stranger than fiction, writes Sasha Simic

Issue No. 2148

In the Loop with Peter Capaldi (left)

In the Loop with Peter Capaldi (left)


If you want to see a very funny film that targets all the right people with a scalpel-sharp script then don’t miss In The Loop. It is the big-screen version of the BBC’s The Thick Of It.

Director Armando Iannucci’s film takes us down the corridors of power in London and Washington where chillingly amoral politicians are putting together tissue-thin justifications for invading a country in the Middle East.

The few politicians who have reservations about the war attempt resistance, but not to the point where it might hurt their careers.

It’s the run-up to the Iraq war in everything but name, filmed in documentary style – wobbly camera shots and all. It is a tale of mainstream politics as a sewer where all the players are rats of various pedigrees.

Peter Capaldi reprises his role as Malcolm Tucker, the government’s venomous director of communications.

He has to rein in minister Simon Foster, played by Tom Hollander, who describes war as “unforeseeable” during a radio interview.

In an attempt to redeem himself in the government’s eyes, Foster tells the media that Britain needs to be “ready to climb the mountain of conflict”. The situation spirals towards war.

There’s only one problem with the film. The run-up to the war on Iraq was far more dishonest and cynical than anything we see here.

There’s an often repeated story that the brilliant US satirist Tom Lehrer gave up performing political satire when Henry Kissinger – secretary of state during Richard Nixon’s administration with a shocking record as a warmonger – was given the Nobel Peace Prize in 1973.

Lehrer said this made political satire obsolete.

New Labour’s thirst for the war on Iraq produced the “dodgy dossier”, the lie about weapons of mass destruction which could be mobilised in 45 minutes and “intelligence” culled from a student essay.

The US was led by politicians like Donald Rumsfeld, who told the world that “death has a tendency to encourage a depressing view of war”.

For all its brilliance, In The Loop just can’t compete with idiocy of this quality.

In The Loop is at cinemas now


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Tue 21 Apr 2009, 18:29 BST
Issue No. 2148
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