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In the Loop

Cast: Peter Capaldi, Harry Hadden-Paton, Tom Hollander
Director: Armando Iannucci

It's such a rare treat to see a political film that doesn't involve a physical form of violence, or a well-scripted dialogue, or a moment of intensity when a person is the ultimate focus of the entire ploy. Here we see a satirical take on political games, when one man's words may cause actions that can change the world. While I found bits of the movie funny, it may not be for everyone as it's not really the content of the conversations that matter in this piece, but rather how the key characters move along as they handle and manipulate the information provided.

Simon Foster's words about war with the Middle East being "unforeseeable" triggered the main events that happen within the walls of the UK and the US political offices. People from the pro and anti-war offices begin to work to ensure that their camp would succeed. That includes setting up meetings, forming committees, disclosing or manipulating information, disposing of liabilities and so forth. The people involved all have their own agendas, and as the film unfolds, their purpose becomes clear, with their efforts culminating at an UN meeting. 

The writers didn't make it difficult to distinguish the kinds of people to be expected in the movie. Almost everyone involved played an exaggerated versions of their characters, from the assistants to the politicians themselves. It can't be helped but to think that this is somewhat an accurate version of the kinds of people that play the political game. There are the incompetent ones, the ambitious ones, down to the people who play the suck up card in order to get on a powerful person's good side. There are also the manipulators, the users and the disposers. Unfortunately for us, we encounter these kinds of people even outside the political game. Providing clear characteristics for the actors to work with allows the movie to flourish with a sense of rationality, knowing that since this person is this and their background is such, we would understand their point of view. But of course, there were still some surprises along the way. 

The movement of the film is hard to follow, particularly because there's a lot going on. But I think that's the point. Politics is not clear, but it's something that you should always be prepared for, especially when they throw something at you and you have to have something to strike back. So it's really not the content, nor the strategies to an extent, but it's really how these people, based on their characteristics, take the information, make it work to their advantage and go with it to win, even if it means tying up loose ends, deceiving people, making up things, not disclosing things and all that. 

What makes this movie a good viewing are the actors involved. Everyone played their characters quite convincingly. You have Tom Hollander who played a crass politician, whose words triggered a life changing event. James Gandolfini made an excellent general who has experienced war and never want to go back. You get Peter Capaldi who made an aggressive secretary whose always got his game, even if it meant being chewed out by higher powers. There's Chris Addison who played such an incompetent assistant that even I would fire him if I got to work with someone like him. Everyone involved played their stereotype character, so it wasn't hard to differentiate where their points were or how they thought. 

It's a well played out political satire with hilarious characters trying to navigate through the situation to get out unscratched by the end of the day. A pure conversational flick this may not be a good choice for those looking for the thrill of political savvy. Rather, the viewers are treated to a behind the scenes look of politics as people use their words to gain advantage and ultimately succeed regardless of their agenda. It has a good cast line up with wonderful performance from all of them.