The creative team behind the BBC's political satire The Thick of It has added a few Yanks to its cast (led by James Gandolfini in the Colin Powell role) and rewritten history. Thus, the lead-up to the Iraq War—though Iraq is never named—becomes a hyperbolic transatlantic political farce. As directed by Armando Iannucci, government process becomes madness. The movie, which was SIFF's opening-night gala, is talk talk talk, interrupted by a little sex and drinking, then back to the talking, which soon becomes shouting, screaming, and cursing. The Brits are led by Peter Capaldi, who plays a foul-mouthed and thoroughly frightening Scotsman at a British ministry. We've all heard of the Boss From Hell, but Capaldi's Malcolm Tucker is the boss to whom all the underling Bosses From Hell report. Around him swirl doctored intelligence reports, leaks, blunders, and neocon ideologues. The latter fly especially thick when In the Loop jets over to Cheneyland, aka Washington, D.C., where the younger Brit bureaucrats meet their American counterparts. (Look! There's Anna Chlumsky, the girl from My Girl way back when.) Steve Coogan has a small supporting role, but the movie is Capaldi's. "Walk the fucking line!" he barks at a polite, weak, idealistic MP (Tom Hollander), who later asks himself, "Is the really brave thing doing what you don't believe?" In politics, we learn, you can convince yourself of anything.
For once, Capaldis Malcolm Tucker meets his match (Gandolfini).
Opens at Harvard Exit, Fri., July 31. Not rated. 106 minutes.Read our interview with Armando Iannucci.