Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Ides of March - Movie Review

A film that is written, directed, and starring George Clooney is sure to be heavy on drama and intrigue with a political message either embedded deep within the story or right up front for everyone to see. Since this picture involves the ins and outs of a Democratic Primary race, you can be assured that the audience will be getting a heavy dose of political commentary thrown up in the screen.

Filled with a heavyweight cast, there is no shortage of acting ability here and you hope the story packs enough punch to give this group something to work with. Along with Clooney we get emerging star Ryan Gosling and a supporting cast featuring Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Giamatti, and Marissa Tomei.

There is an obvious effort here to showcase Ryan Gosling as there are so many close ups of his face throughout the movie, I sometimes wish I had sat a little farther back in the theater although the female portion of the audience didn't seem to mind at all. Gosling can clearly carry his own and is proving to be a solid leading man candidate for what is sure to be a solid Hollywood career.

The story revolves around Pennsylvania Governor Mike Morris and his campaign team as they navigate the Democratic primaries in hopes of winning a bid to run for the Presidency. George Clooney gives a solid performance as the Governor and his finest moments are the emotionally charged speeches he gives which also seem to reveal his own views on the current state of politics.

Stephen Meyers (Gosling) is the hot shot deputy campaign manager who has aspirations of following Governor Morris all the way to the White House but soon learns that his idealistic views of the political game may end up leaving him out in the cold. Giamatti and Hoffman play the opposing campaign managers in this race and each will do whatever it takes to win even if it means compromising the ideals and values their campaigns are built upon.

Interestingly, the finest moment in the film involves a flirtatious bar scene between Stephen and a young intern named Molly (Even Rachel Wood) that is about as fiery and well played as any of the debates, arguments, or speeches of the rest of the film. The twists and turns of the political games are enough to keep things moving along but I never really felt engaged to the story or fully invested in any of the characters.

With Clooney behind the wheel and a high powered cast backing him up, this had all the makings of a winner, but I get the feeling that ballot boxes will come up empty when audience votes are tallied and award nominations are announced.

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