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The Ides of March

Posted on by sam

The Ides of March

Director: George Clooney (2011)

Another Showroom cinema viewing, another film with my cool mum who never had an illicit affair with Steve Coogan, and another film starring Ryan Gosling, which means……………..

Before I go any further I need to declare a conflict of interest;

•          Drive stars Ryan Gosling, an actor who can do no wrong in my eyes

So, The Ides of March, a political thriller, features Gosling as a junior campaign manager to George Clooney’s democratic presidential nomination candidate. Phillip Seymour Hoffman is the senior member of the team; Evan Rachel Wood is a young intern. Paul Giamatti is the opposition campaign manager and Marisa Tomei is a journalist. In the beginning Clooney is the type of candidate that makes Barack Obama look like Boris Johnson and everything is pretty glorious. Then affairs, politics and meals involving Buffalo wings fuck everything up.

For what it is, The Ides of March is pretty decent. There’s a subtle and intelligent script, a brutally honest introspective of the American political system, that will give even the most jaded of European sceptics a moments hope that this isn’t the same country that elected George Bush, (The younger twatish one, not the older twatish one) twice, and the acting is quality across the board. Evan Rachel Wood steals the show, but I’ll come to that later. The story makes sense, builds to a logical conclusion, and contains some genuinely nice touches of humour, dark twisted, bitter humour.

Picture provided by a bitter John Kerry

Can I stop being nice about it yet? Easily actually, but it’s not quite time for the old bait and switch where once again Sam proves his hypocrisy by being overly critical of a quality film starring Ryan Gosling, as opposed to a film like Vantage Point, which, despite paragraphs of faults, he happily stated he liked. So, before the vicissitudes of fate lead me down the path of pretentious hatred, I’ll say that technically, The Ides of March deconstructs as a blooming marvel! Text book use of camera, editing, sound, dialogue, framing, any words you’ll see in a filmmaking text book. Clooney can direct, who knew? Well, those who’ve seen Goodnight and Good Luck I guess, and Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, and Leatherheads, and those weird episodes of Unscripted he did, in fact, let me change that, Clooney can still direct, which you should know.

Right, the faults, well the first one is my fault, I’m not American, have no intention of emigrating across the pond, (viewing the pond with a sense that maybe it could be a bit bigger if I’m honest), and don’t particularly care for the weird American electoral system, see George Bush (Either). Not that the first past the post system makes any more sense, anyway, I’m not going to hold the fact The Ides of March isn’t made with me in mind, against it, it didn’t market itself like I should see it, it didn’t advertise to me, and as such, it gets a free pass with regards to not being relatable.

Where it falls down, where I feel fault lies within Ides of March, is that for all its intelligence and introspection, it’s completely and utterly unadventurous. There’s nothing here I haven’t seen before, nowhere is this better reflected than in the casting. Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s character, seen him play it before, Paul Giamatti, seen him in similar roles too many times, George Clooney as a smooth talking leader of men, hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm can’t see that catching on, even Gosling’s performance has an eerie familiarity to it. I said earlier Evan Rachel Wood steals the show, don’t let this take away from a genuine great performance, but one of the reasons for this, is she plays a character I haven’t encountered in any of her previous work; feisty, young, intelligent, attractive and vulnerable,  a lot like the lady who recently escaped her cell in our basement.

The story and it’s simple message, politics can corrupt the good, has been done a thousand times before, and nothing new gets said here, there are a few moments where things seem like they’re going to go a different way, but they don’t, except the end, which is sort of a godfather rip off, but somehow comedic rather than in any way effective.

But, and I realise this is one of the bigger buts, this is a decent film, if you’re looking for an intelligent film, or interested in the American system as viewed by George Clooney, you can do a lot worse than this film, it’s just, you can do a lot better if you aren’t.

Written By Sam ‘I have a theory on how to reform the voting system and re-introduce jousting at the same time’ McKinstrie

Unnecessarily on twitter as McKinstHFP

See HFP’s videos at www.youtube.com/MrHFProductions

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    [...] amount of energy and sex appeal to the screen. Evan Rachel Wood (who was the best thing about The Ides of March) isn’t afforded as much screen time, or given as well fleshed out a character, but the lady can [...]