Director Armando Iannucci's In the Loop is a foreign-born freak of a movie, a bizarre amalgamation of broad humor and pointed political satire. Using an Office-esque mocumentary style, In the Loop careens through the halls of power in the days leading up to the Iraq War, as British and US politicians negotiate idealism and opportunism in a tense political climate.
Cabinet Minister Simon Foster (Tom Hollander) unexpectedly tumbles into the spotlight when he declares in a radio interview that "war is unforeseeable"—much to the chagrin of the prime minister's director of communications, Malcolm Tucker (Peter Capaldi). Simon's use of the word "unforeseeable" is interpreted as an anti-war stance, until, in an attempt to correct himself, he stammers out the phrase "To walk the road of peace, sometimes we need to be ready to climb the mountain of conflict"—a slogan promptly adopted by pro-war factions in Britain and the US. Soon he and his smarmy young aide (Chris Addison), along with the terrifically abusive Malcolm, are off to Washington, DC, where their self-importance will come crashing into the reality that in Washington, everyone is someone else's puppet.
The movie is perfectly titled; government here is portrayed as a high-stakes version of a middle-school cafeteria, with politicians' only ambition to be as close to the inner circle as possible.
As an armchair general whose dovish tendencies only run so deep, James Gandolfini makes an observation that reflects the world of constant spin these characters inhabit: "At the end of the war, you need some soldiers left. Otherwise, it looks like you lost." Politicians blithely edit committee minutes to reflect their own agendas; alliances shift on a dime—none of this makes for revelatory satire, but in Iannucci's hands, it's relentlessly entertaining nonetheless.