The Ides of March is released in the US on Friday October 7th
rating: 4George Clooney may be forever present on the awards circuit for his acting career such as last year's The American and the forthcoming Alexander Payne film The Descendants, but he is not always present as a director. Since his directorial debut in 2002 with Confessions of A Dangerous Mind he has made only two other feature films before now; Good Night and Good Luck, Leatherheads, all except the latter have succeeded their great expectations but despite this, he has yet to completely go in the direction of becoming a full time filmmaker such as his younger peer Ben Affleck. His latest film, an adaptation of Farragut North, a play written by Beau Willimon, gives us Clooney's perspective on modern day politics and indeed those who live in this world, which he depicts as being shark-infested. Can a smaller fish survive, can integrity, honesty and honor still exist in today's world where power, money and greed control politics? Clooney presents us a realistic world, events that unfortunately take place in real life, facts that we read on the newspapers, stories that are hard to believe but happen everyday. Ryan Gosling, plays Stephen Myers, a campaign manager/spin doctor genius who works for Democratic primary candidate Governor Morris (George Clooney). Morris is the kind of politician you want to get behind, a once in a life time candidate that promises the world and we believe he can deliver. Myers plays the everyday man, talented, ambitious but with ideals and morals.... someone who just happened to choose a world full of temptations, greed and dishonesty to live in. He definitely tries his best not to become a victim and for the first half of the movie we cannot help but identify ourselves with him: we all hope for things to change and Morris promises that he will. Like we normally do when a new political candidate starts his campaign, we want to believe he is different, that he will make things right, he will make the world a better place. Then reality sinks in. America's politicians, like all politicians from all over the world, are human beings and they make mistakes, some choose power over honesty, some choose money over integrity. We all know this, yet the system never changes and so victory becomes the only outcome possible for every situation: it doesn't matter how many victims we will leave on the ground. The film kicks in when Myers is approached by a rival campaign manager (Paul Giamatti) who says Morris is certain to lose and offers him a job that would take him to the other side, leaving his mentor Paul Zara (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) and his blossoming romance with a young intern (Evan Rachel Wood) and things start to get messy. To tell you anything more about the plot would do the film an injustice. The Ides of March is a good reminder that we live in a world that desperately needs to change and that it is real hard to live among sharks. It's hard to be part of those good people who do their best to remain uncontaminated by the mud and the dirt. Ultimately the message is the same, the world is not perfect, we can try to change it or abide by the rules that are in place now and forget what we think it's right and try to survive. Does a good cause justify some dishonesty? Can some values and ideals be sacrificed for a greater good? Well, I guess it depends our definition of good. Clooney's film isn't quite the classic we had hoped it would be and it's not as strong an effort as Good Night Good Luck but it's a timely film, mirroring America's disappointment of Obama and his broken promises as he is about to embark on his re-election campaign. The film is oddly cinematic for a political film and director of photography Phedon Papamichael makes use of the symbolism of an election campaign for some wonderful imagery. Though one surprising element is the lack of things to do for the supporting players. Hoffman & Giamatti aren't the major players in the movie you might expect and Marisa Tomei and Jeffrey Wright are barely in the thing and you wonder why they even bothered to star in this. In the leading stakes, Ryan Gosling caps off a great year and could be a contender in the Awards stake. The Ides of March then is not quite the Oscar classic or the next Good Night Good Luck we had hoped but a great way to kick off the Venice Film Festival and a reminder of how good a storyteller George Clooney really is. The Ides of March opens in the U.S. on October 7th and in the U.K. on October 28th.
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