Friday, 16 December 2011

The Ides Of March, dir. George Clooney, scr. George Clooney, Grant Heslov, Beau Willimon, based on Farragut North by Beau Willimon, st. Ryan Gosling, George Clooney, Evan Rachel Wood, Paul Giamatti, Philip Seymour Hoffman. Marisa Tomei, Jeffrey Wright

I quite like Gosling's bright-eyed idealist Junior Campaign Manager, naive, skilled yet inexperienced, but I also like Clooney's Governor Mike Morris, assured, charming and velvet-voiced, but which is better? There's only one way to find out! Labyrinthly-plotted, Sorkin-esque, political thriller-genred FIGHT!!! Those wily politicians are at it again, promising an end to terrorism and the use of fossil fuels, part of a healthy marriage, and edgily vague about whether God exists, while their team mill away in the background, backstage, out of the spotlight, living the campaign, and skeletons dance a merry jig in closets. The Ides Of March is just unpredictable enough to be enjoyable (thanks to the dumbest cut of a spoiler-laden trailer if ever there was one) thanks to the film's theatrical roots and some engaging performances by the terrific ensemble cast. Clooney shows flair as director, and Gosling just gets more and more watchable with each passing part, but the highlight is Rachel Wood, so brazenly Machiavellian and icily contemptible in Mildred Pierce earlier this year, here a sorrowful lament to young ambitious idealism, betrayed by those that ought to know better. It does little more than to reinforce the adage that politics is a dirty business, but the fall from grace and loss of innocence of those unwittingly complicit packs a punch.