Monday, October 3, 2011

The Ides of March

The Presidential Democratic Primary has come down to the state of Ohio and candidate Mike Morris (George Clooney) is looking like a lock for the nomination. With his passionate, long time aid (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and a talented and idealistic young staffer (Ryan Gosling), all they needs to win is the seemingly assured endorsement of a local Senator (Jeffrey Wright). However, the advocacy may come at a higher price than expected, and that along with a rival campaign head (Paul Giamatti), an ambitious reporter (Marisa Tomei), and a sexy young intern (Evan Rachel Wood) are about to give the young campaign manager a crash course in dirty politics. Watching the Clooney helmed "The Ides of March", I was surprised by how lackadaisical the directing was, considering the stylish nature of his other films. I also found the screenplay to be not as sharp and biting as I expected. The star studded cast is in fine form though and Gosling, who is having a career year, carries the film nicely. Clooney seems like a politician to begin with and always seems like he's selling something, making him ideal for the lead here and Hoffman and Giamatti are great in fiery, cutthroat roles. Tomei has a good role here as the tough talking reporter as does Wood as the intern trying to mask her vulnerability. The film does kick itself into gear and the last half is exceptional, but I often found myself reminded of Mike Nichols' "Primary Colors", another film about an idealistic campaign staffer who becomes disillusioned with his hypocritical boss. That was told in a more cynical, scathing fashion which really showed the ugliness of party politics.