Backstabbing in the intimate backrooms of politics is a given. In George Clooney’s new film, “The Ides of March,” he elevates it to an art-form, applying gloss to a filthy business.
Clooney stars, directs and co-scripts this political drama, which wrestles with idealism and corruption. Young, eager and dedicated Stephen Myers (Ryan Gosling) is press secretary to charismatic presidential hopeful, Mike Morris (Clooney). Morris is the quintessential politician — smooth, effective and making sense at every turn. But we, as voters, know instinctively there has to be an Achilles heel (usually located a bit further up the leg).
When Myers stumbles upon a potential political scandal that threatens Morris’ shot at the presidency, all hell breaks loose. It seems there’s a golden rule in politics: You can lie, cheat and blackmail all you want, just don’t screw the interns.
Clooney has assembled a tsunami of talent, which includes the likes of Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Giamatti, Marisa Tomei and Evan Rachel Wood. All of them give Oscar-worthy performances in small but powerful roles. Golden boy Gosling is so hot as of late (“Drive” “Crazy, Stupid Love”) he can’t turn it off. His portrayal of the disillusioned staffer in this film is pitch-perfect.
And, speaking of perfection, two words: George Clooney. In his fourth turn as director, Clooney proves his prowess behind the camera is every bit as fetching as in front of it. And he’s no fool. He knew he had to play a Democrat in order for the film not to appear as a soapbox. Interestingly, Clooney put the film on hold due to the elation of many after the 2008 election. He wanted to wait until people were “cynical again.”
That cynicism is the underlying theme upon which this powerful film is based. The thirst for power can be a lethal quaff. As the soothsayer warned Caesar, “Beware the ides of March.” Et tu, Clooney? I think not.
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