This review was originally published as part of indieWIRE's coverage of the Sundance Film Festival
The aesthetics of "The Office" meet those of "The West Wing" in the scathing political comedy "In the Loop," a speedy close-up on the dysfunctional working relationships of Capital Hill. Taking advantage of a hugely talented cast of American and British performers, director Armando Iannucci focuses on a rambunctious group of fast-talking American and British government employees helplessly grappling with whether or not they want to launch a war. Standouts from the ensemble cast include James Gandolfini as a conflicted general and Simon Foster as a bumbling British Secretary of State whose miscalculated comments to the press continually complicate matters.
Iannucci's shakycam, quasi-improvised style, widely popularized by the onslaught of digital cameras, creates a sense of naturalism while giving the actors freedom to play with their roles. The story occasionally grows too dense for even devout political honchos, but the finest scenes of "In the Loop" thrive on a certain amount of confusion. Ultimately, Iannucci seems less interested in satirizing the government than in showcasing the absurdities that truly exist.