Armando Iannucci‘s In The Loop, a condensed version of his BBC series “The Thick of It,” is very masculine about the events before the War in Iraq. It also begs the question – how did Malcolm Tucker (Peter Capaldi), the Prime Minister’s Director of Communications, get into power? Did he intimidate the PM or ‘demonstrate’ what he could do others? The funny thing is, Tucker’s bravado and invasive methods also calls into attention how we’re only seeing ministers, directors, secretaries and generals. They in turn tell their lowers and the interns that war is good and that’s what the heads of government think is best. There’s skepticism in my part at least, the real powers that be are faceless, and Tucker and crew use that quality to do what they want.
I try to up the voices I hear within the movie. Nationality? It’s funny enough to watch thrice, but maybe it’s because hearing curse words in a Scottish accent or whispered in an English accent than is better than doing so in an American one. Capaldi layers the torture quip, breathing life on Tucker’s un-bottled energy and exasperation. Or maybe gender is the sharp knife to cut the roast? Maybe not, with Judy Molloy (Gina McKee), at one point telling Malcolm ‘Do you like how I’m telling you what’s going on where you are.’ She’s gentle yet strong despite of Malcolm’s bellowing, refusing to play the game unlike US. Assistant Secretary on Diplomacy Karen Clark (Mimi Kennedy) and one of her aides, Liza (Anna Chlumsky). Liza, by the way, uses too many hand gestures and widening her eyes showing how overwhelmed she is with her situation, being the one who has written an unwelcome paper outlining the likely negative outcomes of the war. And the thing is, it’s not Karen or Liza that comes out unscathed, it’s Judy.
The more I watch In The Loop and get to its ending, the more it makes me feel like crap because on the surface level it lets the loudmouthed bad people win. Politicians. Maybe I’m just seeing a disconnect between then and now, the movie not foreshadowing the consequences for the people who pushed the war. But what about Liza, being reluctant about her paper because her career is on the line. Judy’s boss, Minster of International Development Simon Foster (Tom Hollander), is an equally spineless climber, stumbling into an anti-war quotable and becomes ambivalent about it after Malcolm ‘bollocks’ him. The movie intentionally the movie doesn’t have a good guy with any fortitude, neither.
- Peter Capaldi joins BBC drama The Hour for Season Two (telegraph.co.uk)
Hanna (Saoirse Ronan) converses with her father Erik Keller (Eric Bana) in Teutonic accents and commits to combat training from him in the forests somewhere in the immediate south of the Arctic. Telling her father that she’s ‘ready,’ and tiring of the isolation that Erik has inadvertently put her, she flicks a switch that emits a signal so her hunter, agent Marissa Viegler (Cate Blanchett), can ‘find her.’ He flees, she gets captured, she escapes and finds herself on a rocky desert and meets a British faux chavette her age named Sophie (Jessica Barden), who suddenly prattles on about God knows what.
I highlight this part of Hanna’s journey just to say that I love Jessica Barden, who seems like a cherub in the trailer but she plays a precocious character as she did in Tamara Drewe. And she almost steals the show from Ronan, as she talks about MIA and other topics in breakneck speed, without caring if Hanna can understand her. She’s the comic relief with her bodily non sequiturs. But when it comes down to it, watching the latter kill full-grown men, she stands paralyzed, teary-eyed, knowing that she cannot copy what her new-found friend is doing in front of her.
Both girls are worldly in their own way, Hanna through the encyclopedias and languages that her father teaches her, Sophie by actually visiting [laces and immersing herself through the culture. One complements the other. What, then, does the film say about teenage girls’ relationships with each other and the overwhelming possibilities of the outside world? Or the independent, free-love parenting that Sophie’s mother (Olivia Williams) tries as an experiment towards her daughter, who probably isn’t turning out to be what the former exactly wanted? Or the dangers of the outside world that they have to face?
But it doesn’t need to think about those things while it’s offering to show us parts of the world. Hanna breaks a Fake Marissa’s neck and takes out armed guards, escaping a CIA prison facility. She beats up guys on a pier while loaders are driving around her. CIA operatives surround Erik in a Berlin U-Bahn – he kills them all, the audience applauds. Hanna combines snowy forests, Northern African country and city, Germany’s inner-city and abandoned amusement parks. But director Joe Wright, a trickster with his long takes and spinning cameras, doesn’t shoot those locales and the actors filling them with any slow-paced art film pretension. There’s wilfulness in making’ this mainstream action film, these locations thus making the movie more real.
That doesn’t mean that the film is just 110-something minutes of limbs hitting bodies, as it shows the character’s pain and its psychological effect as the outside world, intentionally or otherwise, attacks. Hanna ironically becomes overwhelmed by the stimuli of household appliances of a cheap, Moroccan hotel. Marissa uses one of her electric toothbrushes until her teeth bleed.
Marisa hires an assassin (Tom Hollander) to find her, but when that doesn’t work, these fractured women – Marissa can also be seen as Hanna’s other mirror/double – eventually meet and know that their survival depends on ensuring the other’s death. 4/5