Cert: 12A Runtime: 101 mins Director: George Clooney Cast: Ryan Gosling, George Clooney, Paul Giamatti, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Marisa Tomei and Evan Rachel Wood
You can lie, you can cheat, you can start a war, you can bankrupt the country, but you can’t fuck the interns. They get you for that.
As politics is ruling US news now, I stumbled upon the Ides of March directed by George Clooney. It has been nominated for a few awards in the Golden Globes and most probably the Oscars too. The story follows Stephen (Ryan Gosling) who is a razor-sharp, rising star political media consultant. Presently, he is working on Pennsylvania Governor Mike Morris’ (George Clooney) campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination. Steve has only one man above him, overall campaign manager Paul (Philip Seymour Hoffman). The two consult each other daily. The governor has a single chief competitor, an Arkansas senator with his own astute adviser, Tom (Paul Giamatti). At the moment, the Ohio primary is looming and the staff is working out of Cincinnati. One of the governor’s lower-level workers is beautiful Molly (Evan Rachel Wood), the daughter of the present head of the National Democratic Party. Only 20, she is just learning the ropes. One day, she makes a pass at Stephen and he responds positively. But, he makes it clear to her that politics is his passion and, especially, Mike Morris, his idol. Indeed, Morris is handsome, smart, and appears to speak sincerely and clearly to potential voters. Yet, very soon after their first encounter, Molly drops a bombshell on Stephen. It is a stunning piece of news, one that could knock the earth off its axis. Also, amazingly, Tom has been courting Stephen to “switch sides” while a respected, determined journalist, Ida (Marisa Tomei) is eager for any and all campaign stories. A cauldron of conflicting genuine and perceived realities is brewing. What will be the result?
The screenplay is resourceful in how it interlocks personal and political determination, particularly when Duffy puts out to goad Stephen into defecting. His intentions are fishy, and surely Stephen is eager beaver for prospects to his gain. The movie doesn’t take direct aim or even much involve Republicans. It transpires wholly within a Democratic primary campaign, and while sympathies evolve and alliances shift, they’re all Democrats. There isn’t the sense in The Ides of March, as there was with Primary Colors or Nixon, that we’re gleaning the inside scoop on real-life politicians. It’s more about the ironic catch-22 of prevailing media politics.The movie’s prize asset is the class and skill of the acting, with Gosling yet again playing a character with an adamant charisma done with a less-is-more approach. He has a concentration that sticks to others and gets to the bottom of every moment’s intention. That deep sincerity succeeds on many levels. Since the script is rooted in a play, it features some floodlight monologues that Hoffman and Giamatti make not only credible but stunning under the closer real-world study of the camera. Hoffman has some powerful scenes with Gosling, in which he learns the real definition of his scenario. Jeffrey Wright has a little but central role as Sen. Thompson, whose powerful endorsement can’t be bought but might be open for lease.Clooney as director, is a discreet craftsman with mature cinematic instincts and New Hollywood prudence of allowing his actors to move the narrative.The Ides of March has been received reverentially, but not with as much enthusiasm as it deserves, which may suggest the muted disposition of its storytelling. Again, Clooney casts himself as a supporting character, that unruffled and enigmatic Democratic presidential contender who exhibits himself as a progressive champion and still preserves a concise, pointed detachment from even his closest consultants.
Jennifer Ehle, best known as Elizabeth Bennett, has a tidy role as his wife. Morris is our pipe-dream hopeful, a governor who has squared the budget and promotes an impressive program of national reform, equalized with universal healthcare and free of lobbying interests. He’s also an agnostic who declines to confer any religious beliefs, likely the character’s least realistic ingredient.Most realistic is that Morris might not quite be all he seems. What candidate ever is? Ultimately, he’s simply the handbag for Meyers and his ethical predicament. Indeed, the film is a casual wedding of actor and director, with Clooney freeing the crux of the movie to give Gosling’s effortless solemnity and vigilance the hub. Even as he and Molly are in the seeming fits of affection, Stephen can’t keep his attention off the breaking newscasts.In this world of lingo-loaded, confrontational dialogue and the overcast, springtime Cincinnati streets I’ve grown up loving, Morris is braced in a level match with Pullman, about whom we never gather anything except that the GOP thinks he’s more vulnerable than Morris. The Ides of March may not be quite as idiosyncratic as Confessions of a Dangerous Mind or Good Night and Good Luck, but it’s idiosyncratic in its quality in today’s machine, and welcome installment in the exciting mid-career reinvention of Hollywood’s arguably shrewdest star. Releasing nationwide right when the GOP is at the heart of its primary stink bomb, he comes to my town, a home of his as well, and fashions an understated portrayal of a more everyday sort of political takeover, but is plainly intended to illustrate a society descending on the same trajectory.8.0/10