In the Loop Movie Review
Malcolm Tucker (Capaldi) is the acerbic communications director for Britain's Prime Minister, and right now he has to put out a fire started by Cabinet Minister Foster (Hollander), who called war in the Middle East "unforeseeable" in a radio interview. Foster's aides (Addison and McKee) are working to keep him on the crest of a tidal wave of attention after some American politicians (Kennedy and Rasche) take an interest in him. In Washington they also meet a tough Pentagon General (Gandolfini), while unseen forces seem determined to rush to war.
Essentially, this film plays like Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead during the months leading up to the March 2003 invasion of Iraq. We're watching background workers scurrying around, trying to respond to an agenda set by unseen big name politicians. And there's a sense that no one is really in charge, while each ethical and moral decision swirls into a bewildering storm for each person in the story.
And it's absolutely hilarious. These characters are so well written and played that they instantly become cinema icons. Capaldi's foul-mouthed tirades are much more than a string of expletives: they're playful, lacerating and eye-wateringly inventive. Hollander perfectly nails the dithering politician who tries to do the right thing, but can't quite figure out what that is. Every actor rises to the challenge of each fast-paced scene, adding improvised touches and sharp details.
Iannucci wrangles all of these elements together in a remarkably lucid way that's both hysterically funny and deeply terrifying. The direction and editing are witty and clever, with a fly-on-the-wall style that feels like The West Wing on speed. And this brainy dialog fills each scene with the irony, sarcasm and gallows humour as these people engage in power plays both big and small and then let off steam in unpredictable ways. Not only is this one of the most entertaining films of the year, but it's also one of the most important.