Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Case for Marching Ides

Ryan Gosling and George Clooney.  Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Giamatti and even a little bit of Marisa Tomei.  If that is not a dream cast of quite different but awesome actors, I am not sure what is.  So, on face value alone, the Ides of March seemed worth the watch. 

It's all about politics and the race for the Presidential nomination for the Democratic Party.  It's a close race, and the two campaign camps are doing everything they can to get their man to the top, including sabotaging the other campaign's employees.  The story focuses around Gosling's character,  Stephen Meyers, an idealistic and talented (aren't they always?) young campaign press secretary, who gets caught up in a swirl of messiness as things come to a head.

With that much thesping power behind it, I suppose my main problem with the film is that it did not blow me away.  It was good, no doubt about that, with the political and psychological game playing all pretty interesting.  The politics and stand of Clooney's Presidential candidate, Governor Mike Morris, were... amusing in how completely different from the Republican campaign it appears to be, and how (the cynic in me says) I would think that even "real world" Democrats would find it hard to swallow, and impossible to elect as President. 

But when things all turn to custard (and I will try not to give away too many spoilers), well, then things kind of get a bit blurry.  I was almost expecting Gosling's character to go all Drive and go on a psychotic rampage - but the Ides of March is not that magnificent movie, so things take a different turn.  

I suppose part of the problem for me was that Meyers' reaction to events doesn't end up particularly compelling.  There is outrage, sure, and a bit of frustration, but the disillusionment that is plastered all over Gosling's square-jawed face is not really shown anywhere else - not in his actions, or his discussions with others (not that he really talks with anyone) or anywhere else.  It is as if he kind of switches off for the end of the film, and as he is the main character, it makes me as an audience member want to switch off as well.

Overall then, I knew I had seen a good movie with great actors and fine performances, but the story itself let the film down.

Verdict: The Ides of March is an okay film, respectable in many ways, but ultimately just a bit underwhelming.  6 interns out of 10.

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