Friday, May 11, 2012

The Ides of March

Directed by George Clooney.
2011. Rated R, 101 minutes.
Ryan Gosling
George Clooney
Philip Seymour Hoffman
Paul Giamatti
Marisa Tomei
Evan Rachel Wood
Jeffrey Wright

Max Minghella
Michael Mantell

Stephen (Gosling) is a young hotshot in the world of campaign managing. He’s trying to help Governor Mike Morris (Clooney) win the presidential nomination of the Democrats. At this task he’s second in command to Paul (Hoffman). Together, they work against the force of evil known as Duffy (Giamatti) who manages their opponent’s campaign. The reason they get to be the good guys is because their candidate is not just a good guy, he’s a great guy. Even Duffy acknowledges this on several occasions. Stephen is so smitten, he’s sure the governor will “take back the world” should he become commander-in-chief.

Don’t worry, things aren’t all so black and white. A major conflict in the story is whether or not our young jedi will turn to the dark side. After all, you’re not really good at your job if no one else wants to hire you. Of course, there’s also a love story. Or, is it a lust story? Either way, like the rest of the movie, things start innocently enough and eventually get very messy.

The various messes are handled nicely. Strangely, the twists and turns that create them aren’t of the totally unexpected sort. In fact, we can kind of see them coming. The intrigue comes from seeing how the people on the screen will handle the curves their lives throw them. We say “I knew it” to ourselves when circumstances change. After this, we’re fully vested in the answer to our rhetorical question: Whaddya do now?

Many of us are jaded enough to believe there are no heroes in politics, only villains. We think the people in all aspects of the game are all relentlessly pursuing their own best interests under the guise of working for the betterment of society. They’re constantly hiding things because they need us to believe the words coming out of their mouths. Their livelihood depends on it. Never is this more true than in a presidential election year. Jobs are won and lost. Fame and infamy are gained. The direction of the nation is swayed. This is true whether we’re talking about the politicians themselves, the people who run and work for their campaigns or the journalists who cover them. The Ides of March drags us into the muck with fantastic results.

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