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The Ides of March | The Clapper Bored

The Ides of March

George Clooney’s latest effort behind the camera sees Ryan Gosling’s idealistic campaign consultant discover the dark side of politics in The Ides of March.  Engaged in a fictional presidential campaign, Clooney (pulling triple duty) co-stars as governor Mike Morris alongside the excellent Gosling and brings Philip Seymour Hoffman and Paul Giamatti in as opposing campaign managers. With such top-notch talent, The Ides of March guarantees strong performances throughout.  Despite being surrounded by these heavy-hitters, Gosling, as he has done throughout 2011, steals the show here and adds yet another remarkable role to his increasingly impressive CV.

The stage is set (literally) in Ohio, as Morris faces a crucial primary election to gain the nomination for the Democratic party in the upcoming Presidential election.  His campaign strategy team lead by Paul (Hoffman) and Stephen (Gosling) meticulously plan every move the governor makes in order to gain the political upper-hand in a tight race that is down to two final men.  With a far-left (for the US, at least) platform and boasting integrity and dignity, Morrison appears to be a sure thing.  However, trouble looms when Stephen is courted by his opposition and discovers that the race is about to take a crushing swing against them.  Mixing business with pleasure, in the shapely form of campaign intern Molly (Evan Rachel Wood), Stephen is faced with the harsh realities of a life in politics and is forced to make some painful decisions.

Gosling truly excels with his conflicted consultant.  As the magnitude of the betrayals set in, the hurt can be read in his eyes as the colour drains from his face.  There may be no finer an actor today than Gosling, especially when it comes to wordlessly conveying emotion.  His transition from the ambitious, bright, charming, yet naive co-leader to the embittered, disenchanted, alpha-male is brilliantly laid out and portrayed.  The final shot of Stephen, as the weight of his actions seems to finally register, is magnificent film-making.  Meanwhile, Hoffman is on form as the savvy campaign manager who becomes engaged in a rather sly match of human chess and Giamatti comes through in his perfectly cast role.    Of course, Clooney’s performance is not to be overlooked, as he comes across perfectly presidential and it’s not difficult to envision him as a serious candidate (never mind the fact he seems far too clever for that).  He has also co-written an intelligent political thriller that relies on brains over brawn.  Though some of the finer points of the US’s mind-boggling politics may be lost on lesser informed viewers, a fine balance is struck, preventing the plot from becoming overly complicated.  The pace chugs along at a decent rate but feels a bit off once Paul metaphorically declares “check”.  Still, the final act of desperation is well played and The Ides of March closes strong.

With The Ides of March, Clooney has crafted a fantastic tale on paper and onscreen, that while fictional, highlights many of the flaws in the democracy of the United States of America.  With spot-on casting and a true passing of the torch to leading man Gosling, The Ides of March provides much to appreciate.  It won’t make anyone feel better about the state of politics, but at least Hollywood appears to be in good hands.

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By Jeff Galasso. To read more of Jeff’s writing visit LondonFilmFanatiq.com

Title: The Ides of March
Director: George Clooney
Starring: George Clooney, Ryan Gosling, PSH, Paul Giammati, Marisa Tomei, Evan Rachel Wood...
Certificate: 15
Running Time: 101 Minutes

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