Clooney enters political race, but plot is unconvincing

Strong acting and Ryan Gosling carry smart look at how U.S. political campaigns are run

George Clooney stars and directs his first foray into political cinema in The Ides of March

 

 

There is a long tradition of politically themed movies out of Hollywood, from Mr. Smith Goes to Washington to the more cynical, Clinton-flavoured Primary Colors. It was inevitable that George Clooney would enter this cinematic race, and his ominously titled The Ides of March combines Obama “change we can believe in” rhetoric with the rat-like machinations of Machiavelli.

Not content just to direct and co-author the script, Clooney also stars as Mike Morris, a sitting governor who is running in the Democratic presidential primaries. The charismatic Morris, a bold idealist who champions progressive liberal ideas, is in a critical battle to win Iowa. But he is up against a tough opponent in a close fight, and both men are desperate to get the endorsement of Ohio’s Senator Thompson (Jeffrey Wright).

Morris has a small army of foot soldiers led by two men: campaign manager Paul Zara (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and a whip-smart strategist named Stephen Myers (Canada’s Ryan Gosling). Myers, young and almost painfully idealistic, is a true believer when it comes to Morris. Zara, a campaign veteran, respects their candidate, but is wise enough to know that ultimately he’s just another politician. With that as the setup, it’s no surprise when Myers learns that his hero has feet of clay.

Soon after he finds himself in the middle of underhanded campaign infighting that will challenge everything he believes in – including his own moral code.

Ides is very smart about how political campaigns are run, from the day-to-day strategizing to the courting of the media, from the challenge of getting their candidate’s message out, to deflating or deflecting the posturing of their opponent. Where Ides falls short is with its predictable and unconvincing plot, which ultimately collapses in on itself and offers clichés we can’t believe in.

Although not as compelling as the earlier Clooney-directed dramas Syriana and Good Night And Good Luck, this is a feast of fine acting. Hoffman is always fantastic, and here he’s nicely paired against another great character actor, Paul Giamatti, who plays the campaign manager for Morris’s arch rival. Oscar winner Marisa Tomei is fine as a hard-nosed reporter. Evan Rachel Wood (The Wrestler, Across the Universe) adds nuance to the role of the vulnerable campaign intern. And Clooney, unsurprisingly, embodies charm and gravitas. But this is ultimately Gosling’s film, and he carries it with a harrowing intensity. M

Just Posted

Pet-A-Palooza a good reason to ‘pawse’ this weekend in Victoria

Puppies, goats, wiener dog races and more on the grounds of St. Ann’s Academy Aug. 18-19

UVic art display showcases craft of bookmaking

Art of the Book 2018 is in the Audain Gallery at UVic from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. starting Aug. 11

Celebrate local food with Feast of Fields in North Saanich

21st Feast of Fields on Vancouver Island is at Kildara Farms on Aug. 26 from 1 to 4 p.m.

RIFFLANDIA: Local artists thrive under festival model

Bands like Current Swell, one of the 2018 headliners, made their mark at RAP

Baseball’s HarbourCats wind up WCL season with loss to Pickles

Victoria needed a win to make the league playoffs, now looks ahead to 2019

‘Queen of Soul’ Aretha Franklin has died

Publicist Gwendolyn Quinn reports Franklin passed Thursday at 9:50 a.m. at her home in Detroit

REVIEW: Ever wanted to be young again? Theatre Skam’s Concord Floral will make you think again

Strong acting in an interesting theatre space, writes Sheila Martindale

Brad Pitt says he has given Jolie Pitt millions since split

Actor Brad Pitt denies Angelina Jolie Pitt’s claim that he has paid no meaningful child support.

WINE LOVERS UNITE: Victoria festival offers numerous tasting options

Parkside Hotel and Spa hosting Victoria International Wine Festival

Farquhar Auditorium updates image for 40th season

The Farquhar at UVic ushers in new season Sept. 22

THEATRE SKAM: Young cast brings Concord Floral to life in vacant downtown retail space

Former office supply store a unique venue for telling mysterious tale of youth with secrets

Schedule released for world junior hockey championship in B.C.

Vancouver and Victoria ready to host, as Canada conducts training camp in Kamloops

Five things to do this B.C. Day long weekend

Check out these great community events in Greater Victoria

5 things to do in Greater Victoria this weekend

Check out dragon Boats, artists, football and more

Most Read