Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Catching up with 2011: The Ides of March

If it weren't for Ryan Gosling, The Ides of March would feel more like a great episode of television than a movie one really needs to go out of their way to see. Gosling is, as everyone knows by now, one of the best young actors working today (alongside Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Michael Shannon I'm hard-pressed to find three better young actors working right now), and he really saves this movie from being pretty, "meh." Don't get me wrong, though, Clooney (who stars, directs, and co-writes) is more than adept at making this kind of cerebral, political thriller. Loosely based on the Howard Dean campaign of 2004, The Ides of March fits neatly into the type of film Clooney the director seems drawn to: movies about men of high intelligence and energy (and are somewhat idealistic) who have their worlds close in on them until they reach their breaking point. It's not that The Ides of March is ineffective or even bad; it's just that in the end, it's wholly forgettable. The film doesn't tell the viewer something they don't already know about the soul-crushing endeavor of working on a campaign (and politics in kind of reminded me of Charlie Wilson's War in this respect), but it is filled with great performances (the aforementioned Gosling, of course) from the likes of Clooney, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Giamatti, Evan Rachel Wood, Marissa Tomei, Jeffrey Wright, and Max Minghella. It won't make any end-of-the-year lists, but it's certainly worth your 100 minutes when it comes out on DVD.


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