Tuesday, January 26, 2010

In The Loop (2009)

It must have occurred to many people that the only explanation for the recent behaviour of our governments is that they are now populated exclusively by the incompetent, the self-serving, the mediocre and the randomly aggressive.

But Armando Ianucci's film goes a bit too far. There are some wonderful lines for sure, and great performances from Tom Hollander, James Gandolfini and Peter Capaldi in particular, but I can't help feeling that the contempt of (the real) Alastair Campbell has been earned here by resorting in this way to overt caricature. And the mocumentary-style of shooting does little to counteract the sense of debased realism.

However, if one steps back from the individuals and their motivations we have a take on the lead-up to war that represents the coming together of UK and US interests as something of a mutual misunderstanding. There could be a truth in this which belies the standard media caricature of the Bush-Blair love-in.

It did feel appropriate to watch the film in the week that Tony Blair will appear 'in the dock' at the Chilcot Inquiry over the question of the legality of the 2003 invasion. One of the first live sessions I caught the day after I arrived was a British general gamely expressing the hope that history would judge both the effectiveness and ultimately the effect of our forces in Iraq as "not bad".

Grade: B+

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