This episode compares two political satires about nations on the bring of war, Armando Iannucci’s modern classic In the Loop (2009) and Canadian unseen gem Philippe Falardeau’s My Internship in Canada (2015).
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In the Loop (Armando Iannucci, 2009)
Simon Foster (Tom Hollander), the United Kingdom’s Minister for International Development, accidentally says war in the Middle East is “unforseeable” on a radio interview. While the Prime Minister’s resident spin doctor Malcolm Tucker (Peter Capaldi) tries to fix the situation, war hawks in the United States invite Foster to Washington to help make the push seem more international. Incompetence from all parties ensues, which ultimately leads to war and hilarity (the black humor variety) for the audience.
Often hailed as one of the best political satires of the 21st century, Armando Iannucci’s feature film debut In The Loop mixes British and American comic talent to excellent effect. Based on Iannucci’s TV series The Thick of It, which also stars Capaldi as Malcolm Tucker, the film introduces a new cast of characters on both sides of the ocean. With roots in Yes, Minister, and often seen as an almost cynical reaction to shows like The West Wing, which was still on the air when The Thick of It began, Iannucci’s Malcolm-Tucker-verse was a groundbreaking cynical approach to political satire.
The film features a large cast of great character actors, both British and American, including Gina McKee, Olivia Poulet, Zach Woods, Anna Chlumsky, James Gandolfini, and David Rasche.
My Internship in Canada (Philippe Falardeau, 2015)
Set in a small town in rural Quebec, the film follows member of parliament (MP) Guibord (Patrick Huard), an ex-hockey player who spends most of his time coaching peewee and attending local events, as he discovers he holds the deciding vote about whether Canada will go to war. In an attempt to keep the peace in his family — his wife is pro and his daughter is against — he decides he’ll consult voters, which results in a comedy of errors.
Meanwhile, Guibord has an idealistic Haitian intern, Souverain (Irdens Exantus), who is schooled in Jean-Jacques Rousseau but has little experience with real politics. As they team up, a buddy comedy ensues, whilst they deal with the local problems which are preoccupying Guibord’s constituents. Although the film works as a thoughtful interrogation of the limits of democracy, it’s always with a light touch.
Although Canada has a history of political satire on television, with our TV news satire program This Hour Has 22 Minutes, we have no precedent for political satire on film. In this way, My Internship in Canada is a groundbreaking achievement for our national cinema, but also a story of the limits of democracy that will resonate around the world.
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Show notes and recommended reading
- Read Alex’s 2015 review of My Internship in Canada
- Read Alex’s interview with Philippe Falardeau about the film.
- Listen to our podcast episode on the films of Bill Forysth, including Peter Capaldi’s debut film, Local Hero
- For more on other great recent Canadian films, preview or purchase our ebook, The 2019 Canadian Cinema Yearbook
- Pre-order our newest ebook on Kelly Reichardt
Where to Watch
- In The Loop is available on VOD and streaming on Stan in Australia
- My Internship in Canada is available on VOD in Canada