The Ides of March

10 Jun

Director: George Clooney (2011)
I know very little about American politics. Being English I don’t feel I need to make many apologies for this, but the little that I do know is that election time in the States is rife for excitement, scandal and skeletons and makes for prime source material for films.

More than comfortable in the director’s chair with his fourth film, Clooney (also screenwriter) delivers a tense and slick thriller about corruption, drama and the scandals campaign spin teams work so hard to keep under wraps. Thankfully The Ides of March brings us to the inside, following press secretary and general wonder child, Stephen Myers (Ryan Gosling), as he navigates his way through the perils of the final days of a presidential campaign.
Set in Cincinnati, liberal governor Mike Morris (Clooney) has his eyes on the presidency as he competes in the Democratic primaries with the predominantly off screen Senator Pullman. In fact, Clooney has comparatively little screen time, instead focussing on the cogs that turn in the campaign office, the cogs that have to keep turning regardless of the spanners thrown their way. In this way, The Ides of March is not about the election itself, it’s about the pawns that are played – and played with – to get their man in the seat. It is a fast paced film, steadily building momentum as the campaign veers towards voting day, and off the rails.
As Myers, Gosling is able to once again shine as an acting talent to be reckoned with, and while he is given the almost obligatory love arc, even this is done with a coolness Gosling is on his way to perfecting.  But while Gosling might be ahead of his years when it comes to writing a killer speech, his naivety threatens to betray him when he agrees to meet with the rival candidate’s campaign manager (Paul Giametti). And when he starts shacking up with the young intern (Evan Rachel Wood). Initially, Myers is the embodiment of the every-man-for-himself mentality we’ve come to know in politics; that is until the part of him that is yet to be eroded by political corruption experiences it firsthand. The ever brilliant Philip Seymour Hoffman excels as Myers’ boss, trying to balance his responsibility to the campaign and the endangered loyalty and morality of his young protégée.
Tense and turbulent, The Ides of March conveys the darkness behind the false, whitened smiles, the red-white-and-blue bunting and the bright flash of the camera, revealing a sordid world that if you’re going to get into politics, you’re just going to have to get used to.

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One Response to “The Ides of March”

  1. CMrok93 July 8, 2012 at 10:26 pm #

    This is entertaining even if suspense barely builds and pay-off revelations come with little surprise. Clooney, as a director, is also able to draw-out amazing performances from this whole ensemble cast. Great review.

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