Wednesday, October 12, 2011
The Ides of March (Release Date: 10-7-2011)
David Morris (Clooney) is running for President, and he's got charisma, stage-presence, and game plans to burn. His bid for office has engendered some staunch supporters, none more ardent than Stephen Myers (Gosling), a hot-shot campaign manager who readily admits to having never seen anything like Morris. Paul Zara (Hoffman), Myers' immediate superior, warns him against getting so rosy, as does unscrupulous Times reporter Ida Horowicz (Tomei). While on the campaign trail, Stephen strikes up a casual relationship with an intern named Molly Stearns (Wood), a happening that, when paired with an early-film meeting between Myers and rival campaign manager Tom Duffy (Giamatti), grow to define both the man and the movie, twisting and unfolding in unforeseeable ways.
Clooney, now in his fourth outing as a feature-film director (Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, Good Night and Good Luck, and Leatherheads), films the proceedings with colors and tones that all harken back to the political thrillers of the 70's. He's also no slouch where actors are concerned either, never allowing any of his players to ham it up enough to take over the thing, but capturing small moments in conversation that prove revelatory as the film progresses. The Ides of March is handsomely made, winningly acted (by Gosling, especially), and unpredictable to the very end. So why is it that the movie is almost impossible to get excited about? It's an experience that I've read critics recite time and time again, and now, it's my turn to hop on the, 'good, not great,' bandwagon. Sure, it checks all of the boxes, but that elusive X-Factor seems jarringly missing. In a sense, Ides is the victim of its own world view: The film sees politics as a hopelessly corrupt enterprise, unsalvageable in any respect, and that deep-running cynicism eventually applies to the way the flick looks as a whole. Coming from a cast who has Three Oscars and Eleven Nominations between them, it's hard not to expect the world, and not feel a bit jaded and spurned when the world is not delivered. What you should expect is, 'good, not great.'