Reviews: In The Loop (Blu-ray)

In The Loop, the debut film from writer-director Armando Ianucci, received only a limited theatrical release in Australia. Chances are that it didn’t even screen in your city, and if it did, it wasn’t at a multiplex. This is where the Blu-ray release comes in – presented in beautiful 1080p HD resolution and featuring a 5.1 surround sound mix, In The Loop loses nothing when viewed on your home cinema.

The film itself is genius. First-timer Ianucci has crafted a biting, hilarious portrait of modern politics and the cogs that turn the machine of international relations. He isn’t afraid of throwing the occasional spanner in the works, either. The film, an adaptation of Ianucci’s fantastic British series The Thick of It, stars Peter Capaldi as the irascible and explosive Malcolm Tucker and Tom Hollander as Simon Foster, the well-meaning yet somewhat incompetent Secretary of State, and features supporting performances from James Gandolfini and Steve Coogan.

The dialog is brilliant, and the actors all revel in it. Peter Capaldi is the standout, a ranting, raving, acid-tongued Director of Communications. The plot follows the lead-up to a war by the UK and US against a strongly hinted at Middle-Eastern enemy. The camerawork is handheld and naturalistic, and the set-dressing is blandly realistic. This all serves to underline the strengths of the movie – the writing and performances. And they are strong.

The writing is smart and real, driving the plot forward while delivering characterization and jokes that interweave and call-back and, most importantly, are laugh-out-loud hilarious. While you don’t need to possess an encyclopedic knowledge of international politics to enjoy In The Loop, a basic understanding can only enhance your experience of the film. The acting is convincing and in some cases masterful (Capaldi). The pacing isn’t perfect, but everything else just about is.

In The Loop is a must-see for fans of smart comedy and the Blu-ray is, by far, the best way to see it. In addition to the flawless image and sound quality, the Blu-ray features a great commentary by Ianucci and cast, interviews with cast and crew, deleted scenes, 12 webisodes that are well-worth checking out and a couple of trailers (both UK and US).

As I said, the film isn’t perfect. It comes pretty damn close, though.

4.5/5

Review by Ben Vernel

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