22 April 2009

IN THE LOOP (Dir. Armando Iannucci, 2009, UK)

Not many have had the courage to say something worthwhile about the criminality of Tony Blair and his New Labour project’s feeble and outlandish attempts to sell an empty, meaningless war to the politically apathetic British public. It’s not surprising that comedy and in this case British political satire would act as a suitable conduit for channelling the frustrations, fears and realities of how the elite nations like Britain and American ultimately collude to protect their interests by fabricating and manipulating absent political pretexts. Armando Iannucci’s directorial debut premiered at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year and for a film like ‘In the Loop’, it struck a nervous chord with audiences who were still suffering from a post George Bush hangover. Iannucci continues to be one of Britain’s strangest yet most brilliant writers of television comedy and his blistering political series, ‘The Thick of It’, probed the psyche of media manipulation, spin doctors and ministerial faux paux with a chilling clarity. The lynchpin of the series was ‘Malcolm Tucker’, a hideously monstrous political creation and a thinly veiled mirror image of Alistair Campbell, who uses his status as director of communications for Downing Street and New Labour to annihilate the political opposition and consistently humiliate the dullards who regularly fail to competently fulfil their ministerial duties.

The run up to the invasion of an unnamed Middle Eastern country (obviously Iraq) shows the British government pandering to the national interests of America. Though Iannucci takes a swipe at everyone, the special and cosy relationship between the British and American governments is represented as one fraught with unbearable contempt and built on a pack of lies. The showdown at the UN which makes war inevitable, Malcolm Tucker is shown faking the intelligence by sexing up a dossier and handing it to the American’s as a sign of the British government’s support for the war. It is a hilariously constructed sequence that achieves a nausea inducing reaction within the audience for its nightmarish political honesty. This is a very brave film and perhaps one of the first British films that have been made which are not afraid of scrutinising the legacy of Tony Blair and the lasting impact that his New Labour politics has had upon the psyche of what is a very disillusioned British electorate. ‘In the Loop’ is brilliant, relevant and, as equally funny as Kubrick’s 1964 cold war masterpiece; ‘Dr. Strangelove’.


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