Monday, October 10, 2011
Review: The Ides Of March (***)
Stephen (Ryan Gosling) is a razor-sharp, rising star political media consultant. Presently, he is working on Pennsylvania Governor Mike Morris' (George Clooney) campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination. Steve-o has only one man above him, overall campaign manager Paul (Philip Seymour Hoffman). The two consult each other daily. The governor has a single chief competitor, an Arkansas senator with his own astute adviser, Tom (Paul Giamatti). At the moment, the Ohio primary is looming and the staff is working out of Cincinnati. One of the governor's lower-level workers is beautiful Molly (Evan Rachel Wood), the daughter of the present head of the National Democratic Party. Only 20, she is just learning the ropes. One day, she makes a pass at Stephen and he responds positively. But, he makes it clear to her that politics is his passion and, especially, Mike Morris, his idol. Indeed, Morris is handsome, smart, and appears to speak sincerely and clearly to potential voters. Yet, very soon after their first encounter, Molly drops a bombshell on Stephen. It is a stunning piece of news, one that could knock the earth off its axis. Also, amazingly, Tom has been courting Stephen to "switch sides" while a respected, determined journalist, Ida (Marisa Tomei) is eager for any and all campaign stories. A cauldron of conflicting genuine and perceived realities is brewing. What will be the result? This is a fine film, based on a stage play, and directed by Mr. Clooney. While the story is more predictable in nature, the script has some great lines and Clooney's direction is quite, quite admirable. This is particularly true of the performances he draws from the cast, with Gosling, Hoffman, Giamatti, Tomei, Clooney himself, and especially Wood giving great turns. All the film's amenities, from sets, costumes, and camera work, are also nice. If you are a discriminating film buff, who loves quality flicks with ample discussion points, then I'd suggest you see Ides at your earliest convenience.