Why it’s famous:
Armando Iannucci’s Oscar-nominated British satire and spin-off of BBC series The Thick of It is about the political sphere in the U.S. and U.K. leading up to the Iraq War. The film received critical acclaim and stars pre-Doctor Who Peter Capaldi, and features the late James Gandolfini in a supporting role.
Why you haven’t seen it:
This black comedy from across the pond probably flew under your radar when it came out in 2009, as such smaller films are wont to do.
Why it might be tough to get through:
With rapid-fire dialogue and multiple interweaving subplots, the movie can be hard to follow at times (making it ideal for multiple viewings).
While you don’t need to be versed in early 2000s history to enjoy the film, the plot does revolve around the minutiae of internal politics, so first-hand political knowledge is useful in order to get much of the humour.
Why you should see it anyway:
In the Loop is simply one of the best satirical films of the modern era. Following a group of American and British politicians and staffers in the lead-up to the Iraq War, the film juxtaposes life-or-death diplomacy with the absurd banality of politicking.
A Minister’s first foray into foreign affairs is continually interrupted by a constituent who wants him to fix a wall. An American General (Gandolfini) predicts the outcome of the war using a child’s talking calculator. A staffer struggles to corral his boss while dealing with the ramifications of his own one-night stand. And a vulgar communications director (Capaldi) wages a reign of terror over politicians and staff alike.
Sharp, profane, and contemptuous of idealism, In The Loop presents international politics as more Mean Girls than House of Cards.
Simon Foster: “Go on. It’ll be easy-peasy, lemon-squeezy.”
Toby Wright: “No, it won’t, it will be difficult, difficult, lemon-difficult!”
Simon Foster: “I was going to keep to the line! I was going to say, I don’t think war is unforeseeable-”
Malcolm Tucker: “What is it then?”
Simon Foster: “I don’t know? Foreseeable?”
Malcolm Tucker: “No! Not foreseeable! That’s fucking declaring war!”
Simon Foster: “In England we have a saying for very situations such as this, which is that it’s… difficult, difficult… lemon difficult.”
Director Armando Iannucci went on to create the HBO political comedy Veep, starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus.
The film received an Oscar nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay in 2010.