Directed by George Clooney. Starring Ryan Gosling, George Clooney, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Giamatti, Marisa Tomei, Evan Rachel Wood.
Whenever you have George Clooney directing a film (and in this case even co-writing) you can expect an intelligent, gritty, slick and well-acted movie. Yet again, he doesn’t disappoint us.
Yes George Clooney stars but he’s not the hero. Our protagonist is this year’s rising new star, Ryan Gosling who plays media expert Stephen Meyers for Clooney’s Governor Mike Morris, who is running for President. On the campaign trail is campaign manager Paul Zara (Philip Seymore Hoffman), assistant Ben (Max Minghella) and sassy intern Molly (Even Rachel Wood). They’re up against rival campaign manager Tom Duffy (Paul Giamatti) who it turns out isn’t really the cause for their concern. The real problems are on the home team, which gradually and deliciously becomes evident as the wholesome apple pie starts leaking maggots from within.
Political intrigue, politics, egos, loyalties and ambitions are flawlessly captured in this film based on Beau Willimon’s (co-writer of the film) play Farragut North.
Clooney’s Morris is the epitome of forward thinking, good values, man-of-the-people ideology. He takes the high road and does what his conscience dictates. This is the perfect idol for Ryan’s Steve to follow into battle and deftly handle the press and rubbish any ‘planted’ falsities about his hero. But one wrong move on his part, triggered mainly by determined youth and naïve inquisitiveness swiftly turns a well-oiled machine into an engine on fire.
Clooney’s charm and glint of idealism in the part are bedazzling. You suspect all politicians are the same but you want to believe there’s just one who won’t disappoint you. Ryan Gosling’s Stephen is full of gumption and gusto, exuding charm and adroitness perfectly until of course youth’s brashness and over-confidence get the better of him. Gosling runs the gamut in this one and you can see the transformation at the end when like a bookend (he starts off the film, you think he’s the Presidential candidate) he looks into the camera and you realise this is a changed man.
Supporting performances are all bang on, Seymore Hoffman, Giamatti and Tomei are pushy, strong-willed and wolves in sheep’s clothing at times. Evan Rachel Wood is relatively good.
What’s amazing is that this film utilises little if at all any CGI or special effects. Its special effects are the performances and the sharp dialogue. Sure the plot isn’t layered or suspenseful but the drama is so thick you can slice it. The Ides of March is crisp movie making in a time when too much 3D is blurring our vision.