Sunday, 23 October 2011

The Ides Of March - review

Whilst hardly reinventing the wheel in terms of political thrillers, The Ides of March confirms that the US Presidential race is much more exciting and, well, sexy than our British equivalents.
Of course, it's not that difficult when People's Sexiest Man Alive (1997 and 2006) is directing and co-starring as a smooth, suave Democratic candidate.  The best us Brits get is Hugh Grant as Prime Minister in Love Actually.
Man of the moment Ryan Gosling plays Stephen Myers, a junior campaign manager and media guru, who is working with Paul Zara (Hoffman) to get Governor Mike Morris (Clooney) elected as the Democratic candidate in the next Presidential election.  He is smooth, slick, has experience on the campaign trail but his youthful cockiness and naiviety could prove his undoing with a beautful young intern (Wood) and rival campaign manager Tom Duffy (Giamatti).

Clooney continues to mature as a director and has delivered an incredibly slick, polished and entertaining thriller which at times feels effortless in its pacing and storytelling.  Clooney combines his old school movie star charisma with a movie that brings back echoes of seventies films like All The President's Men.  The film is based on Farregut North but one of the most impressive aspects of the production is that it never feels like a play which is a fate that has befallen many other stage adaptations (Closer, Doubt, Glengarry Glen Ross).  Clooney's task was made easier by assembling a fantastic ensemble cast including several Oscar winners and nominees Philip Seymour Hoffman, Marisa Tomei, the wonderful Paul Giamatti and Gosling who delivers his fourth fantastic (and different) performance of the year as the wide eyed media man whose belief in the right thing is shattered.
Ides has been accused of lacking depth but I felt the script had a lot of snap, crackle and pop, a surprising amount of humour and there is, what feels like, some thinly veiled criticism of Obama's performance so far as Clooney's Morris describes what kind of candidate he doesn't want to be and his stance on certain policies.
The Ides of March is not only a entertaining night out at the cinema but also perfect for anyone needing to fill the void that was left when The West Wing ended.

4 stars

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