The Ides of March – Review
October 30, 2011 3 Comments
The Ides of March (2011)
Directed by George Clooney. Starring Ryan Gosling, Paul Giamatti, George Clooney, Philip Seymour Hoffman
As many before me have pointed out, this film is clearly an early Oscar bait for the forthcoming awards season: it’s slick, handsome, subtle and has some great performances all around.
As a massive fan of the West Wing and political dramas in general, I was always going to like a film that takes place behind the scenes of a political campaign to elect a candidate at the US primaries. But on the other hand, maybe because of my knowledge of the genre, I couldn’t help feeling a certain sense of déjàvu in the depiction of both the plot and the types of characters. Yes, politicians are double-faced, scheming, deceiving, fast talking… This is an immature democracy soaked in disappointments and yet at the same time in colourful optimistic rhetoric.
We’ve seen most of this before, but despite its unremarkable familiar atmosphere, the film looks and feels so good and has enough confidence and tension to keep you thrilled throughout. And just when you’re about to think “this might be a tiny bit slow”, it pulls off a couple of truly unexpected twists and turns it from a political drama into a pulsating thriller. I must confess, at one point I was literally lost as to where it was all heading to.
Clooney co-wrote it, directed it and stars in it too. As a the man behind the camera, he handles it all with great subtlety and films it more as a theatre play, relying on the skills of his actors rather than big actions scenes, or car chases and shootouts. As the man in front of the camera, he takes a step back from the central stage and lets Gosling and the rest of his might cast to do most of the work.
Ryan Gosling in his third movie in a row in little more than a month confirms himself as the actor of the year: his performance is perfectly pitched: strong, charismatic and clever in a way that makes it very easy to like and identify with, despite the weaknesses and darker shades of his character. Paul Giamatti and Philip Seymour Hoffman, unsurprisingly, are perfect as always and Evan Rachel Wood and Marisa Tomei both shine in their limited supporting roles.
In the end Clooney might have more chances at the Oscar with his wonderful performance in the “Descendants” coming out soon (which I’ll be reviewing next), and anyway it’s probably a bit too early to make any Oscar predictions (will people still remember this film next February? I can hardly remember it after just a few days…), but this is still a solid political/thriller of the caliber we don’t get many these days, which treats its audience as thinking human beings capable of actually following a plot without the need to spell it out right from the title itself.