THE IDES OF MARCH
Genre: Political thriller
Premise: A young, idealistic campaign manager (Ryan Gosling) is thrust into the dark, dirty side of politics when he learns that all is not what it seems with his golden boy candidate (George Clooney).
Behind-the-Scenes: Based on the play "Farragut North." Clooney co-wrote and directs. Chris Pine was originally cast in the Gosling role before dropping out.
The Good: The cast. Gosling caps off a banner year with a performance that will likely be recognized come Oscar time. He is the real star of the show (Clooney is barely in it), and his scenes opposite old pros Philip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Giamatti, and Clooney crackle with dramatic tension. There are a handful of standout scenes and the dialogue is dynamite. A lecture by Hoffman on the importance of loyalty is a particular favorite. The movie starts a bit slow at first but really gains momentum at the mid-point - you can feel the noose tightening on all the characters. The timing couldn't be better for such a pessimistic view of politics. The thrills are subtle. The movie is smart.
The Bad: Clooney directs admirably, but the movie can't help but show its stage roots. The twists and turns are predictable. I wish Aaron Sorkin had written the script.
Should You See It?: Yes. The Ides of March is a solid movie - swift, intelligent, and full of amazing performances. If you liked Michael Clayton, you'll enjoy this.
Rating: **** out of 5 stars.