Friday, 15 January 2010

IN THE LOOP


Could Armando Iannucci's tv series successfully translate into a feature-length vehicle? The answer is a resounding "yes", as THE THICK OF IT is transformed into a hugely enjoyable big-screen gem that ranks as one of the very best British comedies in recent years.
Once again, spin doctor Malcolm Tucker (Peter Capaldi) finds himself bang in the middle of another political shit storm, as British and American governments edge ever closer towards conflict with the Middle East.
Following an off-the-cuff remark that "war is unforseeable", Secretary Of State Simon Foster (Tom Hollander) is courted by the US administration who - just like the Brits - have both pro and anti war factions within. When Foster is dispatched to Washington on what he is led to believe is a fact-finding mission, the scene is set for a non-stop bombardment of political chicanery and the foulest of language as Tucker joins his colleague in America.
Those of you yet to encounter this Scottish sultan of spin will surely find IN THE LOOP to be a magnificent introduction. Here, Tucker goes into expletive meltdown, handing out 24 carat bollockings to Hollander, the exquisite Gina McKee ("This is a government department, not a Jane fucking Austin novel!")and anyone else within earshot, including the US contingent who match their British counterparts stride for stride.

From James Gandolfini's hilarious Lt General to Mimi Kennedy's Dep Secretary Of State, the cast are uniformally excellent, trading insults, leaks and red herrings in a winning formula.
Of course, the subject matter is uncomfortably close to home for both countries - particularly during the final act - but if the main point of this film is to make us laugh and think, then IN THE LOOP certainly succeeds.

The Blu-ray is pretty much what one would expect from a recent release, boasting a sharp-as-a-tack transfer. Extras include several interviews (including Capaldi and McKee) and 25 minutes of deleted scenes. Given that the original cut ran for some four and a half hours, it's a matter of regret that further outtakes were not included; particularly as the additional footage is of such high quality.

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