Monday, January 09, 2012

THE IDES OF MARCH - Realistic Slice of Politics

THE IDES OF MARCH (political drama)
Cast: Ryan Gosling, George Clooney, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Giamatti, Even Rachel Wood, Marisa Tomei, Jeffrey Wright, Jennifer Ehle and Max Minghella
Director: George Clooney
Screenplay: George Clooney & Grant Heslov and Beau Willimon, based on Willimon's play Farragut North
Time: 103 mins
Rating: * * * 1/2 (out of 4)

PREAMBLE: The 'Ides Of March' is March 15 and here it refers to the date of the Ohio Primary when Governor Mike Morris (George Clooney) hopes to get enough pledges to claim the Democratic nomination for President.

I don't know much about American politics and I thought I would be over my head in the muddle of US politics but it turned out to be a rather interesting lesson in political realism than American politics.

Marisa Tomei and Ryan Gosling

WHAT'S IT ABOUT? The protagonist here is Stephen Meyers (Ryan Gosling), an ambitious press spokesman working on the presidential campaign of Democratic candidate Mike Morris. His immediate boss is campaign director Paul Zara (Philip Seymour Hoffman), an experienced and trusted aide of Morris. When the opposition's campaign manager, Tom Duffy (Paul Giamatti), tries to get Stephen to switch sides, he finds himself in an unexpectedly compromised position. To make things worse, Stephen is starting an affair with Molly Stearns (Evan Rachel Wood) a pretty and well-connected intern.

Evan Rachel Wood and Gosling

HITS & MISSES: The first half of the movie seems to be bogged down in slow build-up. It lacks adrenaline and we keep wondering which direction the narrative is going. Once the plot milestones are set, the pace picks up and we delight in the twists and turns of Morris's campaign.

Directed by Clooney (based on the the play Farragut North by Beau Willimon), The Ides Of March appears totally realistic and plausible, thanks mainly to a great cast that includes Marisa Tomei as Ida Horowicz, a manipulative New York Times reporter who would go all out for a political scoop. Hoffman and Giamatti (of TV's John Adams fame) are veterans in this type of roles and their performances are faultless. And although Clooney's Mike Morris looks and sounds very much like a Presidential candidate, this is Ryan Gosling's show and he acquits himself well.

The dialogue is excellent and the technical values are all up to par. Indeed, Clooney has successfully transformed the play into an intelligent, thought-provoking film.

THE LOWDOWN: A treat for those who like mental games and thrills.

NB: The Ides Of March has not yet been released in Malaysia. This review is
for the
benefit of those following the upcoming Oscar Race.


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