No Laughing Matter
Deaglán de Bréadún
Worst political movie ever made? That was my initial and perhaps somewhat harsh judgment as I left the cinema after watching In the Loop which was so widely-praised I just had to go and see it. The main character is meant to be based on Alastair Campbell, legendary spin-doctor for Tony Blair.
Alastair Campbell: film version of his diaries would have been better (Photograph by
The film is adapted from the BBC series The Thick of It and the storyline is loosely-based on events surrounding the production of the “Dodgy Dossier” and the miasma of wrong “intelligence” that was used to provide a justification for the invasion of Iraq. Ireland was on the UN Security Council around that period and the present writer spent a good deal of time at the world body”s East River headquarters, even visiting the late Dag Hammarskjold’s “Meditation Room” where a lengthy scene takes place in the movie (Conor Cruise O’Brien, who spent many years at the UN, told me he found the room ”creepy”).
Directed by Armando Iannucci, it is supposed to be a comedy but I laughed about twice through the entire picture. There’s a great deal of bad language with the f-word in almost every sentence uttered by the “Campbell” character. Nothing wrong with that from an artistic point of view – it works a treat in a film like In Bruges.
But the script isn’t very smart or witty and f-words don’t get a laugh on their own, at least not nowadays. Maybe a straight cinematic version of Campbell’s Downing Street diaries would work better.
If you want a good laugh as well as a sense of what it’s like on the inside, you couldn’t do better than our own Seán Duignan’s One Spin on the Merry Go-Round. “Diggie” is a superb raconteur and this is a highly-entertaining account of his time as Government Press Secretary to then-Taoiseach Albert Reynolds. You should be able to get it in the public library or on one of the internet book sites.