It is a rare but much anticipated feat to pull off a quality cinematic political satire.
Those considered the best generally have their characters portrayed in a certain, unique light; flouts and jibes are applicable not only to the plotline at hand, but to other political or social situations as well; and wording is specifically calibrated to make the audience think or react a certain way.
“In the Loop,” the first addition to winter term’s Guelcher Film Series, not only demonstrated these characteristics, but was pure, simple and enjoyable; it sets the bar high for the rest of the Series.
Keeping this in mind, “In the Loop” isn’t the type of film where one can be texting or doing homework on the side. It requires a certain degree of attention and focus to keep events, dealings and interactions straight and, ultimately, see how they connect in the end.
The film details the interactions between the United Kingdom and the United States in the days before the Iraq War. It doesn’t so much depict the events themselves, but rather shows the interactions, mistakes and secrets riddling these governments which are behind the events.
The film begins with British Minister for International Development Simon Foster (Tom Hollander) making the biggest mistake any politician can conceive of – he gives a direct answer, one which goes against the viewpoint of the higher ups, calling war “unforeseeable.”
Malcolm Tucker (Peter Capaldi), the Prime Minister’s Director of Communications, goes off on him like an entire Fourth of July fireworks display. Malcolm himself is the case study of everything you wish you could say to a person and can’t: every other word in his vernacular is a curse, every other sentence an insult. Despite his role as the obvious villain, he is by far one of the highlights of the film.
The problem begun by Foster’s misplaced honesty grows exponentially throughout the film. The people around him don’t help much either; Foster’s new aid Toby (Chris Addison) tries to help his boss through his connections, but ultimately makes things worse. He is jerked around by Karen Clark (Mimi Kennedy), who isn’t so keen to plunge headlong into war, and Linton Barwick (David Rasche), who has all but called the troops in already.
Even those who could easily be viewed as inconsequential play a major part. Clark’s aid Liza (Anna Chlumsky) is the epitome of this role; her controversial paper, “Post-War Planning: Parameters, Implications and Possibilities,” gets the entire U.S. State Department in an uproar and causes some unforeseen complications in the end.
All things considered, “In the Loop” is smart, entertaining and highly recommended.
It shows in the Mary D’Angelo Performing Arts Center this Wednesday at 2:15 and 8:00 p.m. Tickets are free for Mercyhurst students with ID.