Posted in: Disc Reviews by David Annandale on February 15th, 2010
When the UK minister for International Development (Tom Hollander) has the nerve (not to mention lack of political acumen) to opine that war in the Middle-East is “unforeseeable,” all hell breaks loose. The pro- and anti-war bureaucrats in Washington see him as useful to their cause, and descend, talons outstretched. Meanwhile, the Prime Minister’s Director of Communications (Peter Capaldi), a Scot who makes Don King look even-tempered and restrained, goes into apoplectic overdrive in his attempts to keep everything on-message.
Though this blistering satire leaves the precise nature, or even location, of the war-to-be is unspecified, it’s pretty clear that what the film has in its sights is the collection of mangled information, doublespeak and unstoppable political agendas that led to all the fun and games in Iraq. Filled with sharply drawn characters, wonderfully creative profanity, and a bracingly cynical worldview. Not a film for the optimistic (or naïve, depending on your perspective), but the kind of black political farce that the British excel at – think Yes, Minister and House of Cards and you begin to have the idea.
Very naturalistic colours and a sharp image give this piece just enough of a documentary feel to grant it the extra heft of authenticity. Flesh tones are very natural, grain is not a problem, and blacks are good. This isn’t a film (or transfer) that dishes out the eye candy, but nor is it meant to. These are visuals that we might call transparent, in that they are not meant to distract from the story, and they don’t, which also means there are no flaws to get in the way, either. The aspect ratio is the original 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen.
The audio, too, has a “transparent” quality, in that it is purely function, getting the story across without any bells and whistles. The dialogue is perfectly clear, which is great, given that we go from quiet muttering to screaming rage in the same scene. The environmental effects are subtle, and frequently aren’t called for at all, but when there is an occasion, such as a street scene, they’re present.
Behind-the-Scenes Featurette: (3:17) Pure promo fluff.
Deleted Scenes: (28:08) A hefty helping here, and some pretty funny ones, though nothing that the film didn’t survive without.
It’s always a delight to encounter a film so completely and brutally unapologetic in its satirical intent. Very funny, very clever, very dark. Well worth seeing.