Friday, November 11, 2011

The Ides of March

I'd say it's a tad ambitious to try to go behind-the-scenes of politics without being able to write one line of realistic dialogue, but George Clooney tries anyways with play adaptation "The Ides of March." Everything here is exposition; even when characters are having sex, a television in the background is helpfully supplying a live feed of a town hall debate. A cast of extremely talented actors is forced to play with their hands tied, having to make what they're saying sound legitimate when it sounds quite obviously written. The plotting keeps things tolerable, but, all-in-all, this is hardly something Clooney (only skilled at directing himself) should be proud of.

The film follows a campaign making a hard push for the Democratic Primary, as whoever wins this supposedly has a guaranteed shot at winning the election. Mike Morris (Clooney) is the candidate, a personable governor who seems to have a pretty solid platform.Paul Zara (Philip Seymour Hoffman) is his right hand man, and Stephen Meyers (Ryan Gosling), the movie's main character, is his inimitable media guy. The election hangs on getting the endorsement of an influential, delegate-heavy Ohio senator (Jeffrey Wright), and both sides are desperately wooing with cabinet positions and the like. Tom Duffy (Paul Giamatti), who has Paul's capacity on the opposite candidate's team, is simultaneously trying to win Stephen over to the other side. And, all the while, Stephen is finding time for romance with his connected intern Molly (Evan Rachel Wood, who is poorly directed in excruciating scenes), who ends up being pivotal.

A technically sloppy yet narratively calculated and blasé configuration of confrontations and one-liners, "The Ides of March" ends up failing to fulfill the potential intimated by the opening minutes. When was the last time a movie like this was even somewhat incendiary? "Michael Clayton" broke the mold for brainy nostalgic '70s-style thrillers; Clooney unfortunately tried to strike gold twice. C

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